To expand its product offering and provide a locally produced, high-quality product of international standards

revenue growth

Woodchem SA produces various urea formaldehyde resins for the panel industry in sub-Saharan Africa. The formaldehyde, Woodchem’s base raw material, is sold into over
30 different industries in South Africa.

Two formaldehyde plants and a resin plant enable Woodchem to produce 120 000 tonnes of manufactured material per annum. In 2007, an additional formaldehyde plant was put in production, which doubled its formaldehyde production capacity from 45 000 tonnes to 90 000 tonnes per annum. This production increase enabled the expansion into paper impregnation.

Group strategy


Only manufacturer of impregnated paper in sub-Saharan Africa

High barriers
to entry

Implementation of the latest resin technology


Introduction of additional product ranges (previously imported) to a diversified client portfolio

Adding value through

Decrease of imported products and increase of own manufacturing capabilities


Increased energy efficiency by using steam from upstream process

Water and

Decreased water consumption through recycling


Woodchem SA invested R110 million and commissioned two paper impregnation lines, making this is the only factory of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. World leaders in the industry assisted with technical support and assured that the implementation of the new production line allows for superior products and cost savings to customers. They also assisted with implementing best operating practice throughout the process.

In addition, R4 million was invested in the installation of syrup reactors that produce the laminating syrups used to treat the raw décor paper.

Results and benefits

The expanded scope of expertise and resin technology enabled Woodchem to add additional product ranges. By only importing décor paper for treatment, the implementation of the process increased local manufacturing activities. This also resulted in PG Bison not having to import treated décor paper anymore. The total production capacity of the impregnation production line is 80 million m2 per annum.

Quality training and the implementation of continuous improvement structures resulted in significant reductions in total waste values and machine downtime since start-up. By using steam from upstream processes and recycling water from downstream processes, less energy and water are used from source. This provides not only a more environmentally friendly output, but also optimises efficiencies in the process, keeping costs down.

  1. The process of paper impregnation commences with raw décor paper being fed into a production line.
  2. It passes through a first bath to impregnate the paper with urea formaldehyde syrup.
  3. When passing through the first oven, the impregnated paper dries to a specific volatile content before passing through the coating station to be impregnated with melamine formaldehyde syrup.
  4. The second oven dries the impregnated paper to the required volatile content.
  5. At the end of the line, the continuous line of paper is cut into the required sizes to be packed and shipped to customers.
  1. Steam generated from the reaction in the formaldehyde plants is used to heat the resin kettles for the production of various molar ratio resins. The excess steam is condensed and reused in the resin production process.
  2. The water produced as a by-product in the oxidation reaction of methanol is also used in other processes.

Heat recovery units on the new paper impregnation plant recovers heat from the system, reducing the energy cost to generate additional heat required.

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