A simulated one-step process has been created to produce foam core particleboards using rigid polyurethane as the core layer.

FREMONT, CA: Sandwich structures show promising lightweight features for use in the marine and aviation sectors and have been used for years. Furthermore, lightweight boards have a considerable effect on reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions. The sandwich technique in the furniture sector is not well developed because of the time-consuming manufacturing processes, which still prevent extensive application.

A simulated one-step process has been designed to produce foam core particleboards using rigid polyurethane as the core layer. The outcome showed that the various techniques used for surface layer separation and foam injections did not influence panels’ characteristics. Mechanical properties were influenced by the surface layer thickness, while the foam cell structure impacted the water absorption and edge screw withdrawal. The usage of sprayed water for surface layer separation increased the formaldehyde emission of the panels.

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Among all operations, the one-step process shows great potential for simplifying the manufacturing process and joining the sandwich skins and core. Like their thermoset or thermoplastic natures, the features of the core layer materials pose hurdles in the one-step manufacturing operation. In thermoplastic materials, cooling for panel stabilization is vital at the final production stage in the press. The use of thermosetting foam materials as critical layer materials does not need internal cooling. Still, such materials that meet the needs for a one-step manufacturing process are not yet available on the market.

The study showed that foam core particleboards leveraging rigid polyurethane as a core layer could be produced in a simulated one-step manufacturing operation. The research showed that the production tactics have no significant influence on the panel features. Still, the panel properties of the panels and the ones produced by the simulated process were different. Increasing the surface layer thickness raises the FE from the samples. Sprayed water as a separation tactic nearly doubles the FE from the samples, which can be managed by adding urea to the sprayed water.