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Imagination is the limit: Unique designs from scrap

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 08:54 AM    Views : 471by:Maria Luisa S. Lumioan, DOST-Abra

Double zero waste campaign by DOST-CAR among furniture industry players in Abra yields unique products  and competitive firms while keeping the environment clean.

Producers can use left-over materials from production and turn them into something useful.  This piece of advice from Forester Moreno L. Santander, Jr. inspired Abra furniture makers to explore their imagination to come up with unique, creative products.

The furniture makers were participants to a series of trainings for Abra-based furniture producers organized by the Department of Science and Technology-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOST-CAR) thru the Provincial S&T Center-Abra in partnership with DOST-Forest Product Research and Development Institute (FPRDI).

Santander, science research specialist  of DOST-FPRDI, was one of the resource persons in said training series that focused on mixed media furniture, resin lamination, and upholstery. He underscored that one of the main advantages of mixed media design is that production scraps can be turned into something useful.  

In furniture making, mixed media pertains to the use of different raw materials like wood, metal, bamboo, rattan and others in a single product.

Raw material combinations for unique designs

Santander added that furniture makers can create distinct products from their own designs and raw material combinations to set them apart from other companies.  Likewise, furniture makers can take advantage of raw materials endemic in their locality to create designs that would be difficult for others to copy.

Forester Santander also emphasized that product development should be an integral part of a company's activities. He added that developing forest products is a continuous process that involves research of possible materials and their characteristics, concept generation or visualizing and sketching possible designs, and evaluation of the components of the product.

Forester Aralyn L. Quintos, senior science research specialist also at FPRDI, discussed wood finishing techniques and remedial measures on finishing problems.

Science Research Analyst Eduardo M. Atienza, meanwhile, gave FPRDI recommended procedures in finishing.   Participants also had the chance to work on actual mixed-media designs provided by FPRDI under the guidance of Fernando M. Pesigan, science aide of the same institution.

Hands-on training

In addition to mixed media design and wood finishing techniques, FPRDI also provided the participants hands-on training on resin casting/lamination.  

Resin is a highly viscous substance that comes from plants or synthetically produced. In resin casting or lamination, synthetic resin and other materials such as scrap wood, shells, leaves, etc. are put into a desired mold and allowed to harden. Products that can be made through this process include accessories, drawer handles, and decorations, among others.

"Imagination is the limit in creating resin laminated products," said Forester Quintos.

The five-day training was held on November 7-11, 2017 at the Provincial Science and Technology Center and Balbin's Furniture in Bangued, Abra. The training aims to keep local furniture makers competitive in the market. It is one of the programs of PSTC-Abra that support local micro, small and medium enterprises through the sharing of DOST technologies.  

Furniture-making is one of thriving industries in the province because of the availability of raw materials for furniture.

Challenges in furniture making industry

However, recent restrictions on the harvest and use of certain hardwoods have posed some challenges to the local furniture industry.  

"There is a need to expand the raw material base in furniture production so that local producers can remain competitive," explained Menandro B. Buenafe, provincial director of DOST-Abra.

Buenafe further said that this training can also help the local furniture makers minimize waste by giving them ideas on how to transform scraps into useful materials.

Zero waste company in Abra

"Here in Abra for example, Balbin's Furniture, one of our cooperators for Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program, is already practicing zero waste in its production process," he added.

Balbin's Furniture turns scraps of woods, bamboo, wood shavings and even saw dust into high value by-products.  Trimmings are usually used as fuel for the lumber kiln dryer and the excess are mixed with saw dust to turn into charcoal briquettes.  The process of making charcoal briquettes also produces another by-product, liquid smoke, which can be used as deodorizer, disinfectant, and insect repellent.

As a breakthrough in recent years, FPRDI experts introduced another way of using waste materials by turning scrap wood, bamboo, and saw dust into mosaic accents in furniture. Balbin's Furniture adopted this method and began creating furniture with mosaic accents. These products found their way in big markets after being exhibited in the SM Mall of Asia during one of the National Science and Technology Week events, a yearly activity organized by DOST to promote science and technology in the country.

In photo:
Some samples of resin-laminated products

S & T Trivia

" Francisco Quisumbing, a Filipino chemist, invented Quink pen ink which he sold to Parker for international consumption. The ink cleans the pen as it writes, dries quickly on paper, and remains liquid inside the tube. "

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