Wood-based materials, manufactured in the form of panels or boards, are used widely in the construction industry, due to the advantages they possess over the use of solid wood - they can be lighter, cheaper, stronger, bigger, more durable or better insulators - and can be manufactured to precise specifications or designed for specialised purposes (such as marine plywood). Composites are made from wood chips and can therefore incorporate wood residues.
Plywood and glulam are the products that most resemble solid wood, whereas some composites, such as wood plastic composites and those incorporating inorganic compounds have properties more like man-made materials. This category also includes a wide range of particleboards (including OSB) and fibreboards (including MDF).
Many countries have one or more association that represents the interests of the panel industry. Cooperative research, between several European countries, is common in this subject area.
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