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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #928: Fronczak, Frank J. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (May 05, 2008)

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00:26:54 - 00:31:03 Travel

travel, industry, technology transfer, veneer, drying; Leonards, Steve, funding

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00:26:54

BW

During this experience while you were with Forest Products Lab, associated with them over these years, did you any traveling for them or were pretty much located here?

FF

Well I traveled a fair amount. A part of the job was to provide service to veneer producers, the veneer users and producers, and so as part of that I traveled. I wouldn't say that I traveled extensively, but I remember I took at least a couple of trips where I would tour some of the Wisconsin veneer producers, some of the Indiana veneer producers, to become familiar with their problems because part of the idea at the Forest Products Lab was to help the producers, you know provide technology that would help the producers. So the main purpose of most of the travel would be to become familiar with the problems that these veneer producers would have.

For example, when I left, I was trying to get funding within the Lab for a project on continuous press drying of veneer because I saw that as a, based on my visits with veneer producers, I saw that as a important technology, technological area. I had also visited the west coast, the larger you know Weyerhauser, Boise Cascade and so on and I think it was Weyerhauser at the time was starting to do press drying of veneer. They were doing it in a multi-platen presses on basically a batch basis, they would put the sheets of veneer, maybe twenty-four thereabout open and press, dry the veneer, it would get you a flatter veneer dimensionally perhaps more stable veneer, perhaps easier to handle veneer. There were some quality issues that were enhanced by drying these, by press drying, veneer. The problem was that it was a very time consuming process and the equipment for doing it was very expensive. So as part of these visits, I saw the need in both the thin veneer, the decorative veneer, hardwood veneer which is what was generally was being produced in Wisconsin, maple and oak and walnut in Indiana. Veneer producers as well as the bulk plywood producers, a need for a good press dry, press drier for veneer, and that's actually where I was hoping to head when I basically got canned at the Forest Products Lab. [Pause]

And I'll also add, Steve Loenhertz was a guy who took over my job when I went part-time. Steve Loenhertz, he's passed away now, he replaced me and he took over some of the final work on the powered backup roll, I think. I think he did some of the testing, continued some performance testing, while I was still there. Then he also took over, he got a little bit of funding for a concept for continuous veneer drying, although he and I had a little different concepts on how we thought it should be done. I was looking more for a belt, drying the veneer between two belts that would be running under pressure. He looked at wanting to do it using a belt, holding it to a drum, similar to paper drying. Not sure which is a better design, I think both designs were good and it would have been nice if we could have explored both designs.

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