Wood working25.09.2019

Demand for thin veneer plywood on the rise - Koskisen responds by developing the Hirvensalmi mill

The Aski-storage by Tapio Anttila Collection is well-suited for a variety of home applications.

Thin plywood is ideal for furniture, interior design and different kinds of small items.

Plastic and metal are increasingly being replaced by eco-friendly options, such as wood. This megatrend can also be seen in the order books of Koskisen’s Hirvensalmi mill, where orders for high-quality thin veneer plywood are on the rise. 

Koskisen is responding to the growing demand by launching a series of investments at the Hirvensalmi mill, with the first phase to be rolled out in December 2019. Raw material waste will be reduced thanks to an investment in a Raute peeling line.

“The new peeling line will improve the veneer yield from birch logs, thereby improving the entire mill’s raw material utilisation rate,” says Juhani Sopanen, Koskisen’s Director of Thin Plywood Industry.

At the same time, the investment will improve the mill’s efficiency, since production planning will be able to operate with even greater accuracy in the future. For customers, the change will be reflected in the form of improved delivery reliability and quality.

“This is a major investment in the Hirvensalmi unit. It’s part of a larger investment programme that will be implemented at Hirvensalmi over the coming years,” says Sopanen. 

Koskisen's thin veneer plywood is showcased in the ceiling light fixtures at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Thin veneer plywood – endless possibilities

The growing demand for thin veneer plywood can be attributed to its versatility. It is a durable product that can be used in a wide range of applications, from technical products to interior design, and from toys to musical instruments. 

“Thin veneer plywood is used to make, for instance, small laser-cut objects, puzzles and name plates for hotel staff. You will also find it in luxury accessories and watch and jewellery boxes,” says Business Manager Heikki Kiesilä. 

“Wood machining methods have evolved, and waterjet cutting, laser cutting and printing on plywood, especially, are becoming more and more popular,” he adds.  

Thanks to its low weight and pliability, the material also lends itself well to technical applications where it can replace fossil materials, such as steel and iron. 

Thin veneer plywood has been used to make, for instance, conveyor and machine parts and stop plates. 

“In addition to being a more economical material than steel and iron, thin veneer plywood is more cost-effective to machine. For the customer, this also means less capital tied up in spare parts inventory,” explains Sopanen. 

Although several end uses have already been found for thin veneer plywood, the product development work is continuous. Koskisen’s Hirvensalmi unit is part of a joint project co-ordinated by Business Finland to bring together the entire supply chain, from Koskisen’s equipment suppliers to customers and various research institutes. The aim is to innovate and develop new end-use applications and entirely new characteristics for both veneer and thin veneer plywood. 

“The long-term work to promote thin veneer plywood is bearing fruit!” Kiesilä sums up.