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The tall twisting tower is made from wood that shapes itself as it dries

 Technology News from Sri Lanka: Complex, curved wood structures can now be made easier by harnessing the tendency of wood to swell and decrease in reaction to moisture. The method was used in Germany to build a big twisting tower.

The use of wood to create complicated, curved forms needs a great deal of energy and waste of timber. In an attempt to minimize this, Markus Rüggeberg and his peers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology attempted a new method involving the production of flat timber panels intended to curve as they dried in particular ways.

This method is distinct from traditional manufacturing, typically involving drying out the timber before bending it into curved structures using strong equipment. Here, because modifications can cause deformation and cracking in the timber, moisture is regarded a drawback.

In May in Germany, the first proof-of-concept building made of the self-shaping wood of the team was built. The Urbach Tower is a twisting, 14-meter-high structure of 1,2-meter spruce planks produced from 5 meters.

But to be practical for large-scale models for self-shaping wood, technicians must first be able to predict how distinct woods respond under distinct circumstances. To do so, Rüggeberg and his colleagues tested the technique on computer models and experiments on 15-to 45-millimeter-thick planks made of abundant hardwood, European beech, and abundant softwood, the Norway spruce.

The timber is built by collecting two layers of plywood perpendicular to each other. These are produced with 18 percent or more wood moisture content–higher than the 10 to 15 percent wood moisture content typically produced at timber.

As the content of moisture in the wood falls, one layer shrinks while the other, bending the wood, remains the same.

Engineers program the wood to curve by changing how it is layered in distinct ways. Once dry, in the curved state, the layers are bonded together. This won’t alter irrespective of atmospheric moisture.

This method could revolutionize the manufacturing and construction of mass timber, Rüggeberg claims. Without having to bend heavy machines for wood, less energy could be performed intensively.


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