Degree Name

BS in Materials Engineering


Materials Engineering Department


Jean L. Lee


In collaboration with Watson Furniture, this project seeks to identify the cause of surface roughness on composite panels processed into commercial furnishings. The surface roughness was examined and measured using an optical microscope, a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and a profilometer. The SEM and optical microscope provided qualitative data on the surface roughness as well as the film build of each layer. After an initial characterization of the manufactured samples provided by Watson Furniture, additional samples were fabricated for testing using different manufacturing processes than those used by Watson Furniture. These samples were constructed in-house using raw materials provided by Watson Furniture. The first experiment examined how the following factors impact surface roughness: glue composition (wt.% water), glue thickness, core material, and applied pressure. This preliminary experiment revealed decreasing surface roughness as glue amount increased. The results also indicated that using the core material industrial particleboard (IP) as opposed to medium density fiberboard (MDF) led to decreased surface roughness. The results showed no correlation between applied pressure or glue composition and surface roughness. Subsequent experiments following this investigation revealed similar results, barring one trial out of five which indicated the glue amount did not impact surface roughness.