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Investigating Structures Essay

1013 words - 4 pages

TimberTimber contains a great deal of moisture when felled, which makes it almost impossible to work. It also shrinks as it dries out and often cracks. So, the wood gets seasoned. Seasoning involves stacking the wood for long periods in dry air to allow the moisture to evaporate.Even after seasoning however, wood can still warp and twist when in use. This happens because wood is hygroscopic - it absorbs water from a moist atmosphere (causing it to expand) and loses water in a dry atmosphere (causing it to contract). A timber, which is prone to this problem, is said to be unstable. Paints and other surface treatment reduce this effect, but do not eliminate.Dry wood resists decay, and is less likely to be infested by woodworm and beetle. It might be damaged by rain and heat then. It is also cheap and recyclable and you can get it from anywhere. I give it 4.PlywoodPlywood is made up of three or more thin layers (or veneers) of wood, glued together. The veneers are arranged so that their grains run in alternate directions. Since wood is much stronger along the grain than across it, this gives the material uniform strength. This can be demonstrated with a straw model.Although very 'stable', plywood is not immune to warping, since the tensions in the veneers are never equal. Further, if one side of the board gets wet, or is heated, the board will warp as the outer veneers expand or contract.A major advantage of plywood over natural timber is that it is relatively cheap and is available in much larger sheets than natural woods, and in a wide range of thicknesses. Decorative hardwood veneers can also be attached to a cheaper core or base material. This allows for the economic use of rare woods, and provides wide boards which otherwise might not be available. Plastic coatings are also used to provide water-resistant surfaces. Another advantage of plywood is that it is flexible and can be 'formed' into curves.A range of plywood is available, made from different woods, and each having its own particular properties. Birch ply for example, is one of the strongest and most rigid plywood. It will cut easily, and its edge can be planed to a good quality finish. Douglas fit however, is much coarser grained plywood. It snags badly when sawn, and is difficult to plane to a good finish.The type of glue used in the manufacture of the plywood will determine its use. Plywood suitable for interior use or boat building must have waterproof glue.Some examples of products made from plywood are shown here. I give it 4.Rock or stoneThey are not a renewable resource. Most of the types are recyclable and can be used again. It doesn't cost much. You can take it from anywhere. Rain, heat or wind can never damage it. But it's very heavy and difficult to carry. I give it 2.Aluminium alloysBecause aluminium is light and resists corrosion, it is an "attractive" material for engineering...

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