3 Questions to Ask When Buying an Autoclave (Wood Treatment)

Starting a new venture can be exciting.

But for any endeavor to be successful, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into.

If you’re interested in breaking into the wood-treatment industry, you need to go in with your eyes wide open.

You should also have the guidance of a reputable vendor to guide you through the process – from design right on through to manufacturing, maintenance and repair of your autoclave for wood treatment.

Here’s what you need to know.

Getting started on your autoclave for wood treatment

The first part of the process involves gathering some general information.

Once these three main questions are answered, the designer/manufacturer will know what size your autoclave should be.

After the autoclave for wood treatment is sized, the rest of the equipment can also be sized accordingly so that your new vessel works perfectly.

1. What type of wood are you working with?

The first thing that needs to be determined is the type of wood product you will be producing.  Will it be crossties for the railroad industry, utility poles for electric companies, fence post for the agriculture industry or dimensional lumber for the home building industry or big box stores?

2. How much wood product will you need to produce?

The second thing we need to establish is your output production goal. How much wood product you will need to treat on a yearly basis to meet your production needs? This should tell your autoclave designer/manufacturer what size of autoclave you’ll need.

3. What types of chemicals will you be using?

The specific chemicals you use to preserve your wood products play an important role in the design and manufacture of your autoclave and its related equipment.

In addition to the type of chemical, you’ll also be asked where the chemicals are coming from.

Some great sources to use in determining what preservative you will need to use are the wood preservation industry associations.

  • If you are going to produce railroad crossties, I recommend you contact The Railway Tie Association.
  • For utility poles, fence posts, and dimensional lumber wood products, The American Wood Protection Association is a good place to start. This association also produces a yearly standard on what preservatives are available for use in preserving wood products and what requirements are needed to preserve your wood products.

Autoclave cost

Once all the important questions are answered, it’s time to write a check and get started, right?

Not quite.

The truth is, most professionals are a little shell-shocked when they hear the proposed cost of their autoclave and its related equipment for preserving wood products.

If you want to get into this industry, you need to be prepared to invest anywhere between $1 and $3 million for the wood-preservation equipment alone. A swag estimate for everything, equipment, buildings, foundations, and material-moving equipment is anywhere between $7 and $12 million dollars.

85% of people change their mind when they find out it’s such a costly endeavor.  However, on average, and with the right equipment, you can expect a return on your investment within 3 to 5 years.

Using a chemical manufacturer

In the course of doing your research, you’ll discover that some wood preservation chemical manufacturers may quote you a lower price for a wood-treatment autoclave system.

The problems with going this route are many:

  • Chemical companies will likely lock you into a long-term contract to purchase their chemicals. The price of the chemicals will be higher than if you invest in the autoclave on your own and then purchase chemicals for the best price.
  • You’ll also lose out on the value and convenience of a one-stop autoclave shop.

For example, if you have one vendor manufacturing the autoclave but another providing all the related parts and automation systems, you’ll need to head up the network of vendors providing you with services and ensure seamless communication.

The Tank Fab difference

When you choose to work with Tank Fab, you’ll have years of expertise on your side.

We can design a custom autoclave for wood treatment and we’ll manufacture it to the highest of standards.

As time goes on, your autoclave will need maintenance and repairs. We’ve got you there, too.

There are number of autoclave manufacturers you can purchase an autoclave from, but many will be unsure of what you will need to make the autoclave produce your wood products at its maximum output potential (like the proper size of autoclave to meet your production needs, track system in the autoclave, size, and location of nozzles needed on the autoclave, etc).

We can provide all of the necessary components you need to make the autoclave produce your preserved wood products – such as properly sized piping, valves, pumps, instrumentation, and automation. And don’t forget the material handling equipment (see the “Transfer Deck System” section on this page)  you’ll need to move the wood products into and out of the autoclave during the preservation process.

You’ll get a truly seamless experience.

Plus, our method of wood treatment leaves your wood products much drier than other processes. That means fewer chemicals wasted and big wood-preservative chemical savings for you.

Are you interested in breaking into the wood-treatment industry? Was anything surprising for you to find out?

Author: Jeffrey Lippincott

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