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Wood Science and Technology Workers

History

Wood is one of the oldest and most versatile raw materials. It has provided shelter, tools, and furniture since prehistoric times. Since the technological revolution, scientists have found ways to treat and process wood in more innovative ways, which has allowed it to be used in many products—everything from plywood to wood plastics—that were unheard of only a few decades ago. The field of wood science technology was developed from these efforts to find better ways of using wood. Experimentation during World War II marked its modern beginnings, and the field has advanced remarkably since then. Today, more than 5,000 different products use wood as their primary raw material and there are 400 identified species of lumber.

Wood must first be processed before it can be used in the making of products. This process can include drying, finishing, seasoning, gluing, machining, or treating for preservation. Wood scientists and technologists study these techniques, in conjunction with the chemical and structural properties of wood, to discover new ways to utilize and enhance wood's strength, endurance, and versatility.

Like metallurgy and plastics manufacturing, wood science is concerned with materials engineering. While wood is one of the earth's few renewable resources, it must be wisely grown, harvested, and used to maximize its benefit. Lumber companies have to plan when and which trees to harvest, and what types of trees to plant now for harvesting in 30 years, so as to get the greatest use of the timberlands. Manufacturers of wood products must use the most efficient methods of converting wood into useful products, so as to achieve the least amount of waste and greatest durability. Wood science helps to fulfill these goals as it works toward more economical and efficient ways to satisfy people's need for wood products.

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