A history of performance


Contreplaqué okoumé - Crédit Rougier

Contreplaqué okoumé – Crédit Rougier


Photo : Thebault

Photo : Thebault


The rise of the industry in France

Plywood truly began to take off in France during the second world war: this lightweight and remarkably stable material raised a great deal of interest in the aeronautical sector for the construction of aircraft. Why? Because plywood boasts excellent mechanical properties without adding weight to aeroplanes.

Having gained experience in the peeling process (with poplar), manufacturers improved their industrial facilities to achieve ever greater performance. Meanwhile, their resources were diversified with the cultivation of a particularly strong and lightweight tree species, the okoume. A technology transfer enabled the peeling process to be applied to this exotic species, allowing the plywood industry to conquer new markets, exterior applications in particular. Constant advances in glue technologies, innovations in the manufacturing process and continuous improvements to industrial facilities allowed for greater diversification, leading to an ever wider range of plywoods with a multitude of uses.

Today, plywood has made its mark as an effective, reliable and versatile material. It can just as easily be found in building structures, in home interiors, in crates used for the transportation of parts and industrial products, and in boat furnishings.It has countless applications.

Sophisticated manufacturing processes and improvements in glue technologies make plywood a high-quality industrial panel that stands apart in terms of performance and dimensional stability, even when used outdoors. The NF contreplaqué EXTERIEUR CTB-X quality label (based on the NF Contreplaqué standard) certifies a plywood’s performance and its ability to be used outdoors.

Today, plywood has made its mark as an effective, reliable and versatile material.

International innovation

Today, plywood is an industrial material manufactured using a highly controlled technological process. It is known to have been in use since the antiquity. Indeed, the first evidence of thin sheets of wood being bonded together dates back3,000 years, to Ancient Egypt. Ancient Rome also exploited the virtues of one of plywood’s forerunners, which was used to manufacture shields.

A few thousand years later, in 1881, Fitzland L. Wilson filed a patent in the United States for a new machine: the veneer lathe was born. It would go on to rationalise timber peeling and intensify the production of thin sheets of wood. But the real turning point occurred a few years later, in 1884.

A further patent was filed in the United Kingdom by Witkowski, relating to the use of casein glue to bond sheets of wood together with the grains of adjacent layers arranged at right angles to one another. This invention paved the way for the manufacture of large industrial panels. Between the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century, plywood began to make its mark in Russia, Finland and Central Europe. Why? Because these countries were blessed with vast quantities of easy-to-peel wood, such as spruce and birch.

In France, the industry’s development began very early in the 20th century with the peeling of poplar, which was primarily used for packaging. The sector truly took off a few years later with the arrival of another tree species: the okoume.

1881 – Fitzland L. Wilson files a patent in the United States for a new machine.



Photo : Drouin

Photo : Drouin

Photo : Drouin

Photo : Drouin