THE term ‘veneer’ is synonymous with plywood and gained prominence in the 1970s. The last 20 years have played witness to the emergence of LVL as the pre-eminent timber building material in modern construction practices.

Initial Australian LVL manufacturing started with a modulus of elasticity (MOE) of 13,200 MPa, approximating an existing US grade of 1.9E. This ‘recipe’ became the de-facto ‘commodity’ LVL grade. New LVL entrants matched this grade. In 1997, SmartFrame LVL began to be marketed as LVL 13, its description similar to MGP and Glulam (eg (MGP10, GL13). Further, SmartFrame LVL 18 was added shortly after.

‘Boutique’ LVL products have emerged with lower MOEs (9,700 to 11,000 MPa), which use lower grade Radiata veneers. Consistent characteristic strength values from SmartFrame LVL over many years have allowed a promotion from a grade of 13 to 14 and now 15. This new grade can be made on an economic and environmentally sustainable basis indefinitely.

The increase in characteristic strengths allowed the 36 mm LVL to be reduced to 35 to match seasoned timber and the 45 mm to reduce to 42 mm to accommodate 90 mm stud wall, eliminating the need to plan back oversized LVL at the structural junction.

SmartFrame are therefore proud to announce the arrival of SmartLVL 15 to its family of Engineered Wood Products, with the ‘standard’ grade now being SmartLVL 15, and as older stock is exhausted, the LVL 13 and LVL 14 grades will no longer be offered. Other SmartLVL products such as SmartForm will still have their individual grade properties.

SmartLVL 15 now achieves equal to or better properties to that of F17 under table 2.4 of AS1720.1. Therefore, SmartLVL 15 now has span properties equal to that of F17, with the added benefit of being more consistent, uniform and available in longer lengths then its hardwood alternative.

SmartLVL 15 is clean and green, achieving an E0 rating under AS/NZS 4357.2:2005, plus being harvested from PEFC endorsed sustainable forestry sources. So what does this mean for specifiers?

Architects, engineers, builders and estimators are able to specify SmartLVL 15 where traditional F17 timber may have been placed, making it convenient to specify one product for the project instead of two. The consistency, strength and green credentials of the product, not to mention the lack of waste during SmartLVL 15 production, all combine to provide a cleaner, greener, stronger and longer product — saving time and money in design, supply and labour costs on your project.