Based on the highly successful WM3000 (originally the LT300), the new WM3500 sawmill from Wood-Mizer is a significant development that offers higher productivity and fast payback, together with the environmental benefits of the company's thin-kerf sawblades in reducing the amount of waste from each log.
The WM3000/LT300 was introduced in 2003 and quickly became popular with customers, so that its speed, productivity, reliability, cutting quality, ease of use and operator comfort have been evaluated through many installations over many years.
All of these benefits have been retained in the WM3500, and in addition significant design improvements have been made to increase the functionality and performance of the sawmill.
Major features on the new machine are a wider throat for the bandsaw head, enhancements to the hydraulic system for manipulating logs on the deck, and improved routing of the electrical cables. The head is 150mm (6in) wider than on the WM3000 and therefore takes a longer bandsaw blade. As a result, the WM3500 can cut larger and heavier logs than its predecessor - up to 1m in diameter compared with 91cm - and the cutting process is easier and more productive.
There has been a complete redesign of the hydraulic system for positioning logs on the deck for optimum cutting. There is an additional (second) chain turner and an extra vertical support (three in total), and a more powerful motor for the pump that increases operating speed of the turner, clamp and side supports by 25-40%. The hydraulic system also now offers two speeds, with the operator using a footswitch to choose between 'fast' mode for rapid initial positioning, and 'slow' for more control over accurately adjusting the log on the bed.
A new 'cruise control' allows the operator to pre-select the maximum optimum cutting speed for achieving high quality sawn timber depending on the size and condition of each log and the finished board dimensions. This function then automatically sets that speed for consistent cutting of the whole log.
One of the most visible changes is the new method of protecting and routing the electrical cables that connect the control panel to the head and other working parts. Previously the cables were enclosed in a 'cat track' that ran along the machine bed. Although a well-proven system, with higher production levels the volume of dust, chips and bark offcuts produced could fall onto the track and had to be cleaned out from time to time. To overcome this, Wood-Mizer engineers created a new 'Pantograph' system, with the cables held by articulating arms above the machine where they cannot be contaminated by falling debris.
For maximum automation and productivity, the WM3500 is available with optional material handling systems. These include an hydraulic deck for holding batches of logs and loading them one at a time onto the sawmill bed, and an inclined rubber conveyor to transfer sawn boards (which are automatically removed from the top of the log after each cut by the effective board removal device fitted as standard to the head) to sorting tables for removal and stacking. These optional systems are all controlled by the sawmill operator from the main console.
The combination of all these developments means that the WM3500 achieves a level of productivity that was previously unheard of for narrow band sawmills - while still having the benefit of thin-kerf cutting in terms of reduced waste and higher yield of valuable timber from each log.
Tartak Olczyk of Poland was the first customer to install the new industrial sawmill, together with the optional hydraulic log deck and board conveyor and also Wood-Mizer's industrial setting machine to maintain the sawblades. The company is one of the country's largest privately owned timber processors and has been a Wood-Mizer customer since 1991 after buying an LT40 sawmill.
Tartak Olczyk invested in the WM3500 to provide additional capacity to its existing German sawline. It is used for special production of pine, spruce, ash and oak - including logs that are contaminated with metal since if a blade is damaged it is much more economical to replace a Wood-Mizer thin-kerf blade compared with replacing a wide bandsaw blade (which costs 10 times more) on the main sawline.
The company has given positive feedback on their experience of running the WM3500, which they say has met all their expectations in terms of performance and particularly the high quality of cut. It processes an average of 25m3 of logs per shift, but the company points out that many of the logs are contaminated with metal. Production would be higher if they were constantly sawing clean logs - the WM3500 has the ability to produce 25-40m3 of finished dimension sawn boards in an eight-hour shift (depending on the size and species of log and the size of the final product), and throughput can be significantly higher than that if the sawmill is used only for primary log breakdown and other machines are used for further processing.
This article was published in the 'Wood-Mizer Today' company newsletter.
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