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A wood-based electrically conductive furniture panel “made in Bern”

Wednesday 26 October 2022

The panel developed at the BFH can be coated and turned into furniture. The positioning of the lighting fixture does not have to be determined in advance, which guarantees great flexibility. | © BFH

A research team from the Institute for Materials and Wood Technology at the Bern University of Applied Sciences has developed a wood-based panel that conducts electricity.

A piece of furniture with integrated lighting that does away with cumbersome wiring: this is now possible thanks to a wood-based panel that conducts electricity, developed by a research team at the Institute for Materials and Wood Technology IWH of the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH under the direction of Heiko Thoemen.

Inside the panel are two thin layers containing carbon fibers, through which the current can flow. In an initial interdisciplinary concept study, which was carried out in 2019 in collaboration with the Architecture Division and the Department of Technology and Informatics at BFH, the research team had already succeeded in developing a wood-based panel with low electrical conductivity.

A subsequent feasibility study allowed the panel to be developed and improved and a working prototype to be built based on a design schematic. After the success of the conceptual study, the team sought to refine this system at various levels during the feasibility study.

Machining properties and impending commercialization

Improving the panel's machining properties, a mandatory requirement for a product intended for wood furniture manufacturing, was also a challenge. The team achieved this by modifying the structure of the board. A patent application for the low electrical conductivity furniture panel was filed, and a recycling concept developed.

The next step will be product development up to market launch. For this purpose, implementation partners must be brought on board. Initial discussions with potential partners in Switzerland and abroad have already started.

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