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Researchers have found that simulating the shrinkage of wood materials during drying can give woody materials the desired curvature..
Existing methods of making complex, curved wooden objects take up a lot of energy, and cutting or grinding unwanted parts creates a lot of waste. However, materials scientists from the Swiss Higher Technical School of Zurich and the University of Stuttgart have found a way to use the natural properties of wood to absorb and release moisture to create similar structures..
First, a team of scientists developed a computer model that predicts the deformation of the board depending on the type of wood, natural moisture and reaction to its changes. Then they figured out how to use the natural features of individual fragments to create complex structures of the desired shape without machining..
In order to test the effectiveness of the technique in practice, they designed and built a 14-meter structure, called the Urbach Tower..
When creating it, they used two types «wet» wood: European beech and common spruce. By gluing individual thin elements, the researchers made laminated boards. In the process of drying, one layer was compressed, and the second – no, forcing the whole board to flex without cracking. After obtaining the desired shape, the fragments were fastened together to prevent their further changes, and then a whole demonstration structure was built from the bent boards..
We also reported earlier that engineers have found a way to make wood more than ten times stronger by creating an inexpensive and lightweight alternative to most metals and alloys.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: University of Stuttgart, diagram: Science Advances