Since the beginning of the 20th century, there have been numerous attempts to create a process for drying wood using a vacuum yet, despite all the studies carried out, no one managed to industrialise this process. In 1962, Vincenzo Pagnozzi, an engineer, started in Turin his original research on drying wood using the vacuum method.

Eng. Vincenzo Pagnozzi
Prototype "PRIMO"
In 1968, thanks to the widespread the success obtained in the drying field, Pagnozzi received an order from FIAT for the drying of workshop floor coverings. The world's first industrial 6-machine vacuum plant.

FIAT installation
 Eng. Ernesto Pagnozzi (on the left)
On the basis of this invention and the first results obtained, a company was established - MASPELL (Macchine SPEciali Lavorazione Legno) - which gradually expanded, producing machinery and developing new technologies that generated 89 patents during the first few decades of activity.
In 1972, Pagnozzi’s son Ernesto, the current CEO, joined the company. He graduated in Electronic Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin with an experimental thesis based on research into the mathematical model of the vacuum drying of wood.


 Interbimall trade fair, Milano, Itay 1972
Nagoya trade fair, Japan 1975

In the same year, the company made its debut at the Interbimall trade fair in Milan (International Biennial Woodworking Machinery Exhibition), where it presented to the world its flagship vacuum dryer with heating plates, the PRIMO model of '65, perfected and optimised. In 1975, in order to meet the need to load wood into stacks without heating plates, the first vacuum dryer with longitudinal ventilation was designed and built: an important step towards process optimisation applied to market requirements, presented at the Nagoya trade fair in Japan. Maspell began to move beyond Europe, following the call of the innovation proposed.

LIGNA trade fair, Hannover 1977
BS Model

From 1977, with its first participation in the LIGNA trade fair in Hannover, Germany, the company acquired an international dimension, granting construction licences in Japan and the United States, and thus starting a sales network able to cover and serve all continents. This edition, just two years after the first ventilated model, saw lateral ventilation drying being proposed with the BS dryer.

The public were amazed by the results presented in terms of speed and ease of processing, acknowledging that vacuum was an incredibly effective and innovative application. So many people visited the Maspell stand that the technology invented by the Pagnozzi family became a success. The robust construction and simplicity of production of the BS dryer made it a successful model, which can often be found in operation around the world, given the large number of units sold.

LIGNA trade fair, Hannover 1979

LIGNA trade fair, Hannover 1979

In 1983, the company did not shy away from applicating cutting-edge technology - thanks to the exponential growth of the research and development department, the first vacuum dryer with Microprocessor conduction was designed, applied and proposed in MILAN.
This important step marked the transition from the discontinuous vacuum process to the continuous vacuum process and the introduction of energy recovery with Tandem.

1984 marked an important turning point in the definition of the two main and most widely imitated types of vacuum dryers:
The Lo.La (longitudinal-lateral) ventilated dryer optimises flows within the cell, as it is loaded with standard industrial stacks as well as traditional ones and simplifies the logic of the machinery.
The press dryer, which sees a return to the use of heating plates to increase speed and obtain perfectly flat wood: a machine aimed at both small joinery workshops and sawmills with a campaign also launched in the media on national television channels.

Lo-La ventilation
Press model

It was precisely as a result of this technological success, and with a view to international distribution, that Maspell's partner companies were set up around the world. In 1990, the company MA.FRA (MASPELL FRANCE) was established in France under the direction of Mr. Michel Jacquier, it is still a flagship and a benchmark for the French-speaking market.
In 1992 Maspell outdid itself again with the production of the Goliath dryers: two machines with a capacity of 50 cubic metres each, the largest ever built in the world. The project was named 'Columbus', in honour of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America.

In 1994, with the establishment of the new company W.D.E. (Wood Drying Engineering), production moved resolutely towards the optimisation of the manufacturing processes, bringing the construction standard of the vacuum dryers to the highest quality levels, first and foremost thanks to the exclusive use of stainless steel for the body of all its machinery.
In 1997, this business model merged with the history of vacuum wood drying under the name WDE-MASPELL, a leading company in the sector with over 5000 customers worldwide.
The new set-up made it possible to break a new record, namely the construction of a vacuum plant with a capacity of 100 cubic metres, the SQUARE 100 model.

SQUARE 100 model.
The MCP 2000 microprocessor

In 1998, the fully-automatic MCP 2000 control system was introduced. 40 editable programs, relating to wood species, thickness and moisture content, complete with a precise reading of the parameters needed to conduct the process, connectible to an external computer for exporting and reading the data also via an internet modem (remote access).

The experience on the vacuum drying process gained by the company over more than 30 years, combined with a state-of-the-art system made to measure for it.

Since 2000, the WDE MASPELL construction and distribution network on the Chinese market has been in partnership with G.M.I. TIMBER DRYING EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURING LIMITED.

This experience has been replicated in the Brazilian market since 2002, with WDE MASPELL BRASIL.

In 2005, Umberto Pagnozzi, current joint CEO and third generation of the family, joined the WDE MASPELL team.

His training in the field of marketing and communication followed the evolution of multimedia information channels, for a specific update of the internet platforms available and the introduction of management and technical software that allows for 3D rendering of machinery and the optimisation of production.

In 2008, an innovative idea in another field, also related to woodworking processes, once again made WDE MAPELL cutting-edge.
Vacuum as an inerting agent to subject wood to high temperatures of up to 230°C.

Heat-transformed wood that resists biodegradation without adding pollutants, 100% environmentally friendly.
A machine, the 'Thermo Vacuum'®, for which the company's 91st patent was filed.

In 2010, WDE MASPELL installed the first 6-cubic-metre industrial plant in Italy after several years of experimentation with an industrial prototype machine installed at the IVALSA CNR in San Michele all'Adige, and the drafting and divulging of several research efforts.
The Xylexpo exhibition in Milan, together with events and seminars held independently by WDE MASPELL, witnessed the launch of the new process.

Launch of Thermo Vacuum at XYLEXPO, Milan

A technology that revolutionised the conventional heat process and was widely acclaimed on an international level. The same year saw the debut of the Total Vision system with PLC and touch screen, directly derived from the previous MCP 2000, with the addition of different controls, logics and total remote and security operation via internet with the "WDE MASPELL CLOUD” dedicated servers.

Screen shot of "Total Vision" system

Between 2013 and 2016, as leader of 6 scientific centres, consortia and companies, WDE MASPELL presented and obtained from ECO-INNOVATION funding of more than €1.5 million for the market penetration of vacuum heat-treated wood.

This process led to the characterisation of various wood species, together with the registration of a trademark associated with wood subjected to the Thermo-Vacuum® process - VacWood®.

The VacWood® registered trademark

In the wake of the success achieved within the European funded programme, WDE MASPELL applied to the HORIZON 2020 programme for two years, receiving the prestigious "SEAL OF EXCELLENCE", i.e. one of the highest awards granted by the EU for the most deserving projects, for both presentations. The theme of this new process was the application of VacWood® to engineered woods. Several dozen vacuum systems have been installed worldwide so far, and the market trend is rewarding the scientific and customer-oriented approach that the company has continually maintained over time.


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