Malaysia conducts first load-bearing tests on glulam made from native timber in joint project between Malaysian Timber Council and Universiti Teknologi Mara; team aims to develop span tables to enable use of locally-produced glulam in construction

LOS ANGELES , March 17, 2014 () – Malaysia is developing its first span tables for glulam produced from native timber, according to a March 16 report by The Star.

The tables are being developed in a collaborative effort between the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) and Universiti Teknologi Mara in Selangor Darul Ehsan. Structural engineers working on the project have selected Heritiera spp. for the pilot trials, a species commonly known as Mengkulang.

Engineers recently conducted trials with Mengkulang glulam at the university's heavy structure laboratory, where they worked to establish the maximum loads that could be supported by glulam beams of different specifications. The tests were the first of their kind to be conducted on Mengkulang, according to The Star's report.

 Dr Zakiah Ahmad, project director for the tests and a director at the university said the tests were good indicators of the ability of Mengkulang wood to withstand sheer stress. She said the work also provided valuable data to determine the optimum location of finger joints for different timber lengths.

MTC chief executive officer Datuk Yeo Heng Hau noted that, while it was known that glulam beams can withstand heavier loads across wider spans than non-laminated timber beams, no tests had been conducted on glulam made from Mengkulang or any other Malaysian timber species. He added that the use of Mengkulang glulam and other tropical species would remain restricted to non-load bearing applications unless load-bearing applications were established to enable the development of span tables.

 Dr Zakiah said her team would now progress to analyzing the lamination process used on the beams, and expect to complete pilot trials in three months.

The use of glulam in construction is relatively new in Malaysia, and the MTC is actively promoting its use.

The primary source of this article is The Star, Malaysia, on March 16, 2014.

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