Laser-positioned workpieces for the world’s largest CNC wood manufacturing system

In Westerkappeln, Derix produces glulams on the largest CNC wood fabrication system in the world – over 80 m long. It has used LAP lasers from the beginning.

Glulams are highly-engineered wood products that need a high degree of precision to manufacture. Nearly every shape and size of loadbearing structure made of glulams can be produced much more economically using the WOOD PRO laser projection system by LAP. The highly precise laser projector projects outlines and contours on work surfaces and workpieces, replacing complex measurements and time-consuming verification. The LAP customer Derix has been using laser projectors with a great deal of success to produce glulams on what is presently the world’s largest CNC wood product manufacturing system.

Wood is a frequent loadbearing element in roofs of houses and very large halls. Glulams are primarily used for this purpose. These consist of low-weighing laminated timber with a high static strength. Glulams can be used to bridge extremely long spans.

The beams are made of at least three wood layers with fibres running the same direction, and these layers are tightly glued to each other. The beams can be manufactured in nearly every shape and size and can be easily adapted to the pitch of roofs. 

Glulam production – a time-consuming process 
For about 50 years, the timber manufacturing company Derix in Niederkrüchten near Düsseldorf has been producing these innovative structural elements. The company, founded in 1925, is a proven specialist in support structures for unusual architectural designs. In the town of Westerkappeln, Derix is producing glulams on the largest CNC wood product manufacturing system in the world (80 m long) that has used LAP laser systems from the very beginning.

Derix production manager, Gunnar Neubert, remembers the bad old days of producing glulams before lasers: “Derix has always stood for outstanding craftsmanship. Even without the help of lasers, we produced pretty good results, but with a lot of personnel and man hours. Before machining the glulams, we had to run the entire component through the machine to check the contours. While machining, one employee had to walk next to the machine to visually make sure that the position was correct. Another employee was in charge of operating the machine.”

Laser projectors support the production process
Martin Hegemann, responsible for marketing to the lumber industry at LAP: “LAP projectors replaced manual measuring and time-consuming monitoring. As with every other branch, nothing comes for free in the timber industry. Lasers are increasingly being used for the wood machining process to optimize production and for quality control after machining.”

The highly precise LAP laser projectors can support the entire production process in every stage of wood machining. The WOOD PRO system by LAP projects outlines and complex contours on work surfaces and workpieces.

Load the file, project the laser, align and cut 
In addition to glulams, Derix machines plywood and large wall, roof and ceiling elements made of cross-laminated solid wood layers. The laser system reads the geometric data from the CAD file and transfers it to the machine. WOOD PRO also calculates any necessary corrections. After the component has been rotated or moved into the optimum position, the laser system generates the final machining contours and starts cutting. With LAP lasers, 3D projections at different heights in a single glulam are possible.

Intelligent architecture for the Cologne elephant house
WOOD PRO enables traditional and novel wood designs to be constructed very precisely, quickly and economically. This is important to Derix since, in addition to glulams, the company is especially known for its load-bearing structures for unusual architectural designs.

For the original roof of the elephant house in the Cologne Zoo, Derix was awarded the North Rhine Westphalia Wood Construction Award. The wood roof support structure spans the 3,000 m² pen of Cologne’s favourite pachyderms.

The facility which is famous in zoo architecture circles uses the most up-to-date information about elephant care and was a major challenge for all participants. Daylight penetrates into the interior through openings in the roof and walls. The tree-shaped robust construction imitates the natural environment of the pachyderms and intelligently incorporates it in the architecture.

Enormously time-saving and highly precise
Ludger Wiegelmann, Production Manager of Derix in Westerkappeln near Osnabrück praises the switchover: “The laser projectors were very well received by the employees. All of the operators are impressed. The system was set up and integrated very quickly and is now considered an indispensable part of the production process. The lasers have become essential.”

And no wonder. Production is now extremely precise and takes less time. Ludger Wiegelmann again: “The machine operators can flexibly determine the location of a component and position several components at the same time. This enormously accelerates the process. We also employ lasers for the pressing jig in the gluing station before the CNC system. We used to use a tape measure; the greater precision achieved with the laser lines cuts down waste of expensive materials.”

“When laying down the parts and checking the contours on our large wood production system, the laser saves us about three minutes per unit. When setting up a new structural element for the first time, even more time is saved – a lot more.”

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Your Press Contact

    Thomas Armbruster

    Tel.: +49 (0)4131 951195
    Fax: +49 (0)4131 951196

    LAP GmbH
    Laser Applikationen
    Zeppelinstr. 23
    21337 Lüneburg

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