Originally posted by Rich Galassini:
That is one of their strengths as well Del. Compression crowning won't work because the boards tend to be more stable than a traditional board. This also means less movement with seasonal changes.
Laminated soundboards cannot be crowned by the traditional compression-crowning techniques (though many have tried!).
I don't see Bosendorfer or Mason & Hamlin ever using them, but Kawai, Yamaha, Samick, and others have done so with varying degrees of success.
Yes, that is one of their strengths. But it is not the only one, nor is it the most important. The ability to precisely tailor and control the stiffness/mass characteristic of the panel is the feature that attracted me to the type. Their stability and consistency are just bonuses.
You are probably right in that the traditional manufacturers will never use laminated soundboard panels. This does not mean, however, that we will not see high-end and/or high-performance pianos using them. It wouldn't be the first time traditional manufacturers have been left behind by refusing to investigate and implement new and superior technology.
In my opinion this transition will become inevitable as the world runs out of suitable spruce forests. Or, in the case to the temperate rain forest, forests whose characteristics gave rise to the majestic Sitka spruce from which most of our soundboard tonewood has come. North America is rapidly running out of Sitka spruce and there are no new old-growth forests coming along to renew the supply. Indeed, under the political expedient of "saving them" we’re once again hacking away at what little remains.