Apr 15, 2022

4/8/2022 – Review on the Workshop Tree to Product

Tree to Product – opportunities in the digital timber value

Workshop with IntCDC Guestprofessor Martin Tamke from Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), Copenhagen

As part of his IntCDC Visiting Professorship, Martin Tamke invited representatives from the entire value chain from forest to product on 08.04.2022 to promote networking between the areas of digitization of forestry in Baden-Württemberg with research and design in the field of computer-aided architecture in the half-day workshop "Tree to Product".

Around 30 representatives from wood construction research at the IntCDC Cluster of Excellence in Stuttgart, the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen, the Institute for Mechanics of Materials and Structures at the Vienna University of Technology, the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) and the Ministry of Food, Rural Areas and Consumer Protection Baden-Württemberg (MLR) gathered at the University of Stuttgart to discuss resource and data flows in the forestry and construction industry. The focus was on how a possible linkage of these flows could enable designers and processors to create or improve products, processes and services in terms of sustainability, accountability, clarity and efficiency.

Among the participants were many researchers from IntCDC's Early Career and Education program, who took the opportunity to learn about career paths in Denmark. IntCDC's Early Career Program supports young researchers in building an interdisciplinary and international network to achieve their research and career goals.

Martin Tamke – Introduction

With an overview of the current situation in timber construction and its opportunities and possibilities, Martin Tamke, Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen, opened the workshop: to realize a circular economy in the building sector, we need new materials such as flax and wood on the one hand, and on the other hand we need to rethink the high quality requirements for these materials, otherwise a lot of material can be discarded as waste. In addition to traditional construction methods using wood, new materials such as BSP/CLT open up a wide range of possibilities in architecture.

Nevertheless, wood will not be able to simply replace today's conventional building material, concrete. The downgrading of wood alone by sorting it into standardized strength classes causes a lot of waste and prevents the material from being used on a mass scale.

Calculations of the entire value-added process, from the tree to the end product, show that around 85% of the tree trunk as waste has no further use.

Further problems arise from the increasing use of wood by other industries. And in addition to the increasing demand for wood, the forest itself is undergoing a change: due to faster harvesting cycles, the forest is becoming younger, thus storing less CO2. In addition, the use of the forest as a habitat and cultural area for animals, plants and people involves a certain potential for conflict.

It is interesting to note that the construction industry uses little wood in relation to other industries - in Denmark as well as in Baden-Württemberg - thus giving rise to local timber construction initiatives, such as the Holzbau-Offensive Baden-Württemberg, to promote timber construction.

In their work, the question of the digital value chain forms an important aspect: the tree should not only be linked to a classified wood product, but all the way to the final product. In an ideal process, starting from this end product, one would be able to plan the value chain back into the forest in order to be able to use wood more efficiently and in a way that is more appropriate to the material. Ideas for implementing this process were discussed at the workshop.

Here you can download the presentation.

Trees and Timber: The Forest Product Sector and Timber Construction Initiative

Lecture by Jan Bulmer

In his presentation "Trees and Timber: The Forest Product Sector and Timber Construction Initiative", Jan Bulmer, Ministry for Rural Areas and Consumer Protection Baden-Württemberg, gave an insight into the history of forestry and thus also into our emotional attachment to the forest, which is decisive for our dealings with the forest today.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in the 9th century AD is often the inspiration for the symbol of the German forest: the Roman poet Tacitus describes it as a dark and eerie place whose opacity is supposed to explain the devastating defeat of the Roman troops by the Germanic tribes. Later, the forest appears as a permanent feature in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Here the symbol of the forest for the uncertain is solidified.

With the Romantic era, the forest is finally transfigured into a place of longing in songs and poems; it becomes a symbol of closeness to nature in a time of emerging industrialization. Perhaps this long history of the forest's reception explains today's emotional political debates and the question of the right way to deal with the forest.

However, scientific observation and the economic use of the forest also have a long tradition in Germany: as early as the Middle Ages, forestry was so intensively practiced that wood was in danger of running out. Carl von Carlowitz coined the term "sustainability" in 1713 when he recommended in his work Sylvicultura Oeconomica that no more wood should be taken from the forest than could grow back, in order to safeguard stocks.

This initially led to the pragmatic approach of managing the forest like a checkerboard: the areas were planted with monocultures because they were easier to manage that way. But over time, it became apparent that these monocultures were less resilient than mixed forests. Climate change did the rest, and so today we are faced with a forest conversion that requires mixed forests with resistant species and increased hardwoods in order to be able to continue to use the forest as a biosphere, cultural space and sustainably managed area in the sense of a circular economy.

Concepts of digitalization: Increasing transparency in forest and wood supply chains

Lecture by Udo Sauter

With the presentation of the two projects HoBeOpt and DigGeBaSt, Udo Sauter, FVA Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg, gave an insight into the research work of the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA).

The HoBeOpt project is investigating how to capture whole tree trunks using CT scanning and process the data for geometrically optimized cutting.  In this way, the material can be used more efficiently, as the cuts can be adapted to the natural shape of the tree.

DigGeBaSt promotes cooperation between the individual sectors, from the timber harvest to the sawmill: the wood should be able to be tracked and traced along this chain. This is done with the help of digital fingerprints of the wood and a comprehensive data management system. The newly developed technology will be tested under real conditions in this project. In addition to economic goals, the sustainability goals of the UN are to be pursued in particular.

Here you can download the presentation.

RawLam: Digital forestry to digital construction

Lecture by Tom Svilans

Tom Svilans reported on the digital workflow from forestry to timber construction. As an Assistant Professor at CITA, he is researching the chain from digital scanning of the forest, tree harvesting, transportation, CT scan for optimized sawmill, to custom design of the structure as part of the RawLam project.

In the final step, he is looking at heterogeneous material selection, which allows for more material-efficient operations. This means that lower-quality components can be used in less stressed areas of the structure, and higher-quality material is only used in areas subject to higher stress, for example in timber joints or areas within the cross-section.

Here you can download the presentation.

Simulating Timber: Computational mechanical modeling of wood and wood-based products

Lecture by Markus Lukacevic

Computational mechanical modeling of wood and wood-based products was the topic of the presentation by Markus Lukacevic, Deputy Head of Research Department at the Institute of Mechanics of Materials and Structures at the Vienna University of Technology.

Here, the mechanical properties of the material as well as the branch structures are investigated by means of micro CT scans and simulated as virtual branch groups in a 3D finite element model. From the data, different stiffness and strength profiles can be derived for the material, e.g. a profile for the bending stiffness. Taking the branches into account, effective strengths can thus be determined for different sections within a BSH beam.

Here you can download the presentation.

HygroShape: Material programming with wood

Lecture by Laura Kiesewetter

For most applications, the hygroscopic properties of wood are undesirable, but Laura Kiesewetter and her team at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart is using this property to produce self-forming wooden components.

To form wood in the traditional way, elaborate presses are needed. These are not only heavy and difficult to transport, but are also designed for only one application. Therefore, most shaped wood components are prefabricated and delivered individually for on-site assembly: The end user must assemble a chair, for example, by himself. HygroShape eliminates the need for furniture assembly: The chairs arrive at home as flat packages; only after the package is opened does the wood begin to deform due to the change in environmental conditions. The low volume of the package saves CO2 during transport.

Parameters such as the type of wood, the moisture content and the arrangement of the layers, as well as the type of cut play a role in the material programming.

In addition to the furniture, there is also an architectural structure: the Urbach Tower was produced using the same process. The team intends to continue its research work in the field and soon build a larger version of the tower. In addition, further components such as roof structures or bracing walls are being considered.

An important research aspect in the future will be the integration of AI into the design process in order to be able to calculate the deformation even more individually.

Here you can download the presentation.

digitize wood is based at the Cluster of Excellence IntCDC at the University of Stuttgart and is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Food, Rural Areas and Consumer Protection (MLR) as part of the BW Timber Construction Initiative.