To improve interfacial adhesion between wood veneer and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) film, wood veneer was thermally modified in an oven or chemically modified by vinyltrimethoxysilane. The wood veneers were used to prepare plastic-bonded wood composites (PBWC) in a flat-press process using HDPE films as adhesives. The results showed that both modifications reduced veneer hydrophilicity and led to enhancement in shear strength, wood failure, and water resistance of the resulting PBWC. The thermal treatment significantly decreased the storage modulus close to 130 °C (the melting temperature of plastic). Thermal-treated wood veneer maintains mechanical interlocking for bonding and veneer strength which then declined under thermal treatment due to hemicellulose degradation and cellulose de-polymerization. In the silane-treated PBWC, enhanced interlocking and a stronger bonding structure resulted from the reaction between the silane-treated veneer and HDPE. This strong bonding structure allowed thermal stability improvement demonstrated by high modulus and low tanδ values. However, the strength of silane-treated PBWC was still much lower than thermosetting resin-bonded composites at higher temperatures due to the melting behavior of thermoplastic polymer, precluding its use in certain applications.
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