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Production-scale R&D projects for WPC compounds and their processing

Production-scale R&D projects for WPC compounds and their processing
Both newcomers to and experienced processors of wood-plastic composites have been able to benefit from the research cooperation agreement between battenfeld-cincinnati Austria, based in Vienna, and the research institute Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH (Wood K plus), domiciled in Linz / Austria, since 2008. This cooperation agreement, a part of the Comet program organized by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG, will now be extended for another eight years and further intensified. The machine manufacturer battenfeld-cincinnati has completely overhauled the WPC extrusion line used by Wood K plus and brought it up to the latest technological standard. So now even more numerous and more flexible methods of processing materials with natural fiber content can be realized – in both one-step and two-step processes.

With its fiberEX 38, Wood K plus operates the smallest production-scale extruder from battenfeld-cincinnati’s conical twin screw extruder series specially designed for processing wood-plastic composites. Many projects have already been implemented under the research cooperation agreement, resulting in an enormous amount of process know-how and extensive knowledge about suitable formulations for a wide range of different WPC products. Alternative fiber materials have also been processed, such as cork, bamboo, hemp, straw and many others, innovative processes have been tested such as WPC foaming, and the question of how far conventional fiberboard could be replaced by WPC has been investigated. The final assessment of all extrusion test results is carried out at the institute’s own physical, technological and analytical test lab.

Partly as a result of intensive cooperation with its research partner, battenfeld-cincinnati has repeatedly succeeded in further improving its wood-plastic composite processing methods. The fiberEX 38 installed at the beginning of the first project period has now been brought up to the latest standard of technology and retrofitted with a new, optimized screw geometry and a new degassing unit. Thanks to its intelligent design, the new degassing unit prevents the release of dust particles from the process chamber and simultaneously ensures a highly effective degassing performance. This extrusion line is able to produce not only compounds for later use in extrusion or injection molding processes, but also WPC profiles in one- or two-step processes when fitted with a suitable die and matching downstream equipment. Since the fiberEX 38 is a production-scale line, up-scaling to a larger production line presents no problems whatsoever, consequently the project constitutes a win-win symbiosis between the industrial partner and the research institute.

Therefore this WPC line combined with the consultancy services of battenfeld-cincinnati and Wood K plus is ideal for customers who are interested in innovative WPC products, but have no facilities of their own to implement research projects or develop new compounds, or who need well-founded data concerning plausibility and feasibility before entering the market themselves with a new product.

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