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Circular Wood for the Neighborhood

Opportunities for the circular reuse of construction wood waste by means of digital production technologies

With the aid of computational design and industrial robots, researchers of the Digital Production Research Group (DPRG) are working at the ROBOT LAB of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), on ways to give waste wood a second life. Currently, this wood is mainly burned or downcycled into chipboard, as manual processing for high-grade reuse is not efficient. But if researchers and their project partners get their way, that will soon be a thing of the past. In the 'Circular Wood for the Neighborhood' project, they have explored how to transform wood released from housing renovations into circular valuable objects.

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With an increased awareness and need to change from a linear to a circular economy, in which waste no longer exists but is reused for new applications, the building sector is increasingly developing solutions for the circular reuse of materials. Circular endeavors involving wood have been initiated by different stakeholders: housing corporations, the construction industry, cities and research institutes.

Wood is a challenging waste stream, because it comes in fractions that greatly vary in form and quality, often ‘contaminated’ with metals (nails, hinges, etc) and finishing products (varnish, paint, laminates, etc). Digital design and robotic production processes (applied for 3D scanning, sorting, removal of non-useable parts, storage, processing, finishing, assembly or other) could offer new opportunities for reuse, which would not be available otherwise. This notion formed the starting point for the Circular Wood for the Neighborhood project.

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