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Meet Our SMT Technical Analysts

There’s so much to learn in Hodges Wood Products Lab. Recently, we had the opportunity to meet with Skye Pham, Melzer Morgan, and Ben Helms, a group of students in the Sustainable Materials Technology (SMT) program, working for Lyndsey Campbell, Wood Products Technical Researcher/Program Manager, as undergraduate lab technicians. They shared with us some of the tests they conduct and how this experience prepares them for the future.

The team receives samples from companies within the wood products industry, especially laminate flooring and thermally fused laminate (TFL). As you walk into the testing room,  your eyes are drawn to the lab benches, which are stacked with various types of product samples. “As of late,” Melzer explained, “the samples have mostly consisted of laminate and engineered wood flooring.”

There are a variety of test methods the technicians perform per request of the customer. In the pictures below you can see them at some of the many tasks Skye, Melzer and Ben perform under the supervision of the program manager.

Prep Work: Skye uses a miter saw to cut the samples down to the required standard sizing for each test.
Small Dart Test: Melzer drops a small ball, also referred to as “dart” depending on the testing standard, onto a laminate flooring sample to determine the impact resistance.
Wear Resistance Test: Ben and Melzer demonstrate Taber wear. Sandpaper is placed onto rotating wheels that abrade the product surface and the number of revolutions is recorded to determine wear resistance. This test is especially useful for decorative products such as laminate flooring and TFL.
Three Point Bending: Ben and Melzer show a mechanical properties test method where force is applied onto the center of a sample, also known as static bending. The computer software on the right controls the movement of the bar and measures the breaking point, producing data such as modulus of elasticity and modulus of rupture.

By working closely with these companies and conducting the trials, Ben, Melzer and Skye have learned how to communicate with industry professionals and structure testing as they would in the industry. The students have gained invaluable experience with time management, as they  work together to test and to return the samples back to the supplier in the expected timeframe while managing busy class schedules. Further, they learn more about the quality of wood materials from every test they perform, which makes it a wonderful supplement to the theory learned in the classroom.

Author: Allie Temple, PSE student