Design, optimization and manufacturing of wood-plastic composite pallet


This paper presents the application of an innovative method of optimization to the design of an I-shape profile used in a wood-plastic composite (WPC) pallet The pallet was made via assembling three WPC extruded profiles manufactured in the extrusion process. The middle profile was considered to be I-shaped, a design which known to have a high load bearing capability. However, due to the characteristics of WPC products, a delicate design and thus optimization is highly required. A multi-objective-optimization program of micro-genetic algorithm was developed in Visual Basic environment to accomplish the optimization task. By specifying the dimensional variables of the profile section and applying finite elements analysis on the profile and then using the optimization program, an optimal profile section was obtained. The objective was to withstand the maximum load while yielding the minimum deflection and mass. The optimized design was used to manufacture a die and then the product was produced to validate the design. The comparison of simulations and experimental results indicted that the given design method is reasonably reliable. The final mass of the produced pallet was less than 20 kg whereas its strength against bending and distributed smooth restraint loading were greater than 500 kg and 2000 kg, respectively.