Caran d'Ache - Seeking alternatives to US wood to make coloured pencils

To sharpen lead and coloured pencils easily, it takes homogeneously structured wood with a light density. As a consequence, the Geneva-based premium manufacturer Caran d’Ache uses only Californian cedar. But because the supply of this wood is limited, it costs more.

In an innovation project with the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), Caran d’Ache is now conducting tests to find out whether switching to European or even Swiss wood varieties would produce similar qualities. To begin with, thewood should be impregnated so that it becomes more malleable and easier to split. Secondly, the researchers want to modify the wood physically and chemically so that pencils made from it can be sharpened more easily.

"Wood from Switzerland or Europe would be more sustainable. But the quality mustn’t suffer.”

Thomas Volkmer, Professor BFH

The biggest hurdles in this project, according to Dr Thomas Volkmer of BFH, are finding suitable natural treatments and uniformly modifying the wood. Cooperation with partner institutions is planned within the NTN Swiss Wood Innovation Network.

Last modification 12.05.2020

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