16 September 2015
The use of wood in today’s vast number of industries is so diverse that it is in great demand by a wide variety of manufacturers. These manufacturers, particularly in the more decorative applications such as flooring or furniture for example, are looking for wood of consistently good quality in the texture and appearance that they are used to.
The main uses of wood are as furniture, flooring, artwork, dishes, utensils, some musical instruments, in construction and even as some sports equipment, tools and toys, not to mention its fundamental use as fuel.
The appearance of wood used in the majority of industries is of utmost importance, with the exception of fuel that is. With the cost of some wooden flooring exceeding £100 in some stores or a wooden dining table costing a few hundred pounds from some suppliers, the appearance of these products as well as quality must be consistently excellent.
Why measure colour?
Different types of wood have different physical characteristics and appearances. The most notable of which is the colour. If you look at the images of wood below, the oak, mahogany and maple wood are considerably different in appearance. It is these appearances that are so important as they are so recognisable and can dictate the worth of the product.
When offered a chair in mahogany, most customers can tell you if it conforms to their pre-conceived idea of what a product made of that type of wood should look like. Keeping that consistency of appearance, particularly in the furniture or flooring industries, is extremely important as the products will be viewed adjacent to each other so discrepancies in colour will be obvious.
When to measure colour
There are a number of opportunities to take measurements of colour of the wood, depending on what the wood is being used for.
• Probably not very practical, but the trees themselves can be measured for quality as they are felled. With a portable instrument, this is a possibility but may not be useful as the wood will be subjected to multiple processes before it is ready to be sold to the public or used for construction of products.
• After drying or seasoning is another stage that colour measurement could be taken as these processes will have an effect on the colour of the wood. Errors in the process could affect the how lightness or hue of the wood is which will affect the final appearance.
• Treating the wood will obviously change its final appearance. Whether it is being treated with chemicals or stains, these will all have some effect on the end product. Monitoring this effect will ensure consistent products are being produced and the production process is as effective as it could be, therefore reducing the cost from manufacturing unsatisfactory products or having to re-treat some of them.
How many measurements
As with the measurement of most things, the more data you have, the better idea of the quality of the product. With a sample that could have some surface variation, the best way to organise the data taken would be to create an average. This average would best represent the product as a whole and provide suitable tolerances that would allow for any natural variation but inhibit the allowance of substandard products. 3 or 4 measurements could be taken over the entire surface to give data representative of the whole product viewable by a customer.