A masterpiece of Italian design technology costing as much as a Ferrari 458 has revved into action at one of the UK’s leading timber manufacturing companies.
Ruthin-based Clifford Jones Timber, which is managed by a family from Wrexham, has been backed by the Welsh Government to spend £150,000 on a top of the range Masterwood 375 computer controlled five-axis machine.
It will revolutionise its ability to produce high quality laminated timber to exact specifications, according to chairman Richard Jones, whose grandfather founded the family firm in 1948.
He said: “It’s a major boost to have had the grant approved by the Welsh Government and we’re delighted to have taken delivery of what is a sophisticated piece of machinery.
“It operates to very exact tolerances and measurements and will really introduce engineering standards to our laminated timber production.
“It will mean our customers can give us exact measurements and we can then programme the machine to exactly reproduce them – it means timber will have the same sort of tolerances that metals have.
“Because it’s computer-controlled it’s all about precision and we believe it’s a bit of a game-changer.”
Masterwood are an Italian company based in Rimini, on the Adriatic coast, with 50 years of experience of producing woodworking machines, mainly for the furniture industry.
The 375 machine is almost 20 feet long by six feet high, weighs seven tons and the fact that its machine tools can operate on five different axes gives it great flexibility of use.
Clifford Jones Timber saw the potential for using it in the laminated timber production both for existing customers in the play, leisure and construction markets and for reaching new customers.
Laminated timber has the advantages of being much lighter than steel or concrete and much stronger and more durable than wood.
Clifford Jones Timber pioneered the manufacture of laminated timber in Wales when it invested more than £1 million in a laminating plant at its eco-friendly nine-acre headquarters site on Ruthin’s Brickfield Lane industrial estate.
The project was also backed by a Welsh Government grant of £157,000 with the process using hi-tech glue developed for the aero industry to bond lengths of timber together under high pressure.
The glue is the same as is used by British Aerospace for the wings it builds at Broughton for the Airbus and it produces a product that is
four times stronger than conventional wood.
“We look to make the most out of the 100,000 tons of timber that comes through our gates every year and we’re proud of the fact that nothing leaves this site without an invoice.
“We are always looking to add value so that even the residues we produce in making over two million fence posts a year generate an income.
“Everything is used. That’s part of our culture that includes using sustainable timber from Welsh and Scottish FSC-certified forests and we aim to make the most of it because it makes good business sense and it makes sense for the planet as well.”
It also produces fuel logs, gates and garden furniture with the residue going to make over 25,000 tons of pellets and briquettes for everything from biomass to barbecues.