From May 15 to May 19, LIGNA 2023, the world’s leading trade fair for woodworking and wood processing, featured many innovations, inspiration, and networking.
More than 1300 companies from 50 countries presented their solutions for the wood industry, the furniture-making industry, the woodworking trades, and the primary sector.
The focus was on three key themes – “Building Transformational,” “Prefab Building Processes” and “Green Material Processing.”
The international response to the event was significant, with 80,000 attendees from 160 countries seeking to educate themselves on innovative technologies and efficient production methods.
LIGNA returned in person after a four-year absence
Exhibitors and visitors were thrilled to finally be able to assemble in person after a four-year hiatus and witness first-hand the power of the woodworking and wood processing industry.
“LIGNA 2023 exceeded the high expectations of both our exhibiting companies and our visitors, demonstrating that the machinery, equipment, and solutions presented at the show are paving the way for a sustainable and digitised wood, furniture, and construction industry,” said Dr Jochen Köckler, managing board chairman of the Deutsche Messe group of companies.
“An impressive 60% of visitors came from abroad. LIGNA has strengthened its position as the world’s leading woodworking tradeshow.”
‘Woodworking Transformational’: Digitalisation, robotics and automation
LIGNA 2023 was not only a platform for presenting new technologies but also a venue for knowledge transfer and networking,” says Dr. Bernhard Dirr, managing director of VDMA Woodworking Machinery. “The show demonstrated that the woodworking and wood processing industry offers its customers the necessary technologies for competitive, and at the same time, sustainable production,” he said.
“Given the uncertain situation currently confronting the woodworking and wood processing industry, the success of LIGNA 2023 speaks volumes for its status as a source of momentum. Not only is it a driver for the industry in good times, but above all, it delivers solutions for the challenges ahead.”
As a result, smart, connected machines, systems, and processes that make costs and production more efficient were popular with the community. There was also strong demand for automation and process-optimizing solutions to cushion the impact of the shortage of skilled workers.
“Visitors were able to experience industry transformation live in our exhibition halls,” Kockler said.
The entire value chain was on display, from woodworking machinery and equipment to tools and work processes, industrial robots, and even exoskeletons to support experts from the skilled trades and forestry.
The machines on display were often not limited to processing wood but are also usable for glass, plastics, and composite materials.
According to Köckler: “Furniture or even construction elements, for example, are made from a wide variety of materials. So, it’s logical that LIGNA exhibitors are expanding their product portfolios and offering their customers a wide range of options.”
Prefab Building Processors: It’s all about ‘optimising cost efficiencies’
The topic addressed how the individual process steps in prefabrication can be aligned with current trends in wood construction — for example, elementisation and standardisation, multi-storey wood construction, hybrid buildings, modular buildings and serial construction.
For example, Swedish company Randek showcased simple machines for use on construction sites and complex systems with robotic elements for large production plants.
Key to this efficiency are prefabricated construction solutions. Wall and ceiling elements, complete roof trusses, stairs, and more, are pre-assembled under controlled conditions, ensuring higher quality and quicker construction times in building.
One trend that stood out is the increasing popularity of cross-laminated timber (CLT). Demand for this material has risen significantly in recent years and is expected to continue growing, potentially resulting in a 30% growth for CLT lines in the future.
In an interview with Wood and Panels Europe, Darko Zimbakov, Executive Vice-President at WEINMANN, the company leading the Construction Elements Solutions division in HOMAG, explained the solutions proposed at LIGNA 2023. These solutions aim to help users with affordable housing and building production.
Zimbakov emphasised the importance of combining industrial prefabrication with sustainable materials like wood to meet climate goals and satisfy the increasing demand for sustainability. Standardised processes, he explained, form the basis for quality assurance, faster inspection and approval times, and shorter construction periods.
Zimbakov stated, “WEINMANN covers the entire process chain and, through the consulting services of Schuler Consulting, also enables customers and investors in regions where timber house construction still plays a subordinate role to enter the sustainable housing and building production.”
Researchers from Fraunhofer WKI also demonstrated their innovative work with renewable and recycled raw materials, a practical alternative to traditional petrochemical or mineral components. They displayed this innovation through two projects — a laminated bridge and a stand-up paddleboard, both showing potential energy savings and sustainable resource usage.
Demonstrating sustainable engineering, the Fraunhofer team showed a bridge made from a laminated material consisting of hardwood veneers combined with natural and basalt fibres. This structure shows how traditional bridge construction can be reimagined, emphasizing the role of innovation in promoting environmental sustainability.
They also showcased a stand-up paddleboard. Constructed from a lightweight material using renewable raw materials, the paddleboard’s core was ingeniously made from balsa wood reclaimed from retired wind-energy rotor blades. This not only avoids waste but also shows how the lifecycle of renewable resources can be extended.
Green Material Processing: Decarbonisation and improved resource utilisation
A key theme at the show was the importance of wood as a renewable resource and its role in the decarbonisation process. In the wake of this, timber construction is becoming increasingly important and opening up new market opportunities for mechanical engineering.
Exhibitors at LIGNA 2023 presented solutions that significantly optimise all the process steps involved in timber construction. Not only does this save on costs, but the use of this precious raw material can also be designed to be as resource-friendly as possible.
The flooring and furniture industries are also increasingly turning to wood as their preferred raw material, as sustainability is becoming increasingly important to end consumers. For example, innovative adhesives based on renewable raw materials also help to reduce CO2 emissions.
LIGNA 2023: five days of innovation, inspiration and networking
LIGNA 2023 offered visitors a wide-ranging supporting program featuring conferences, live presentations, special displays, and awards ceremonies.
At the LIGNA Stage, around 90 speakers presented the latest market developments and trends. The shortage of skilled workers and recruiting issues were also addressed in a dedicated area promoting networking between skilled workers and potential future employers.
As Köckler sees it: “LIGNA 2023 has once again demonstrated that it is an indispensable platform for the woodworking industry. The show not only promoted the exchange of knowledge and experience but also set the course for future-proof and sustainable woodworking and wood processing.”
- Wood Central will provide additional reports on LIGNA 23 as they come to hand.