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Issue 04/2015

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Building & Construction

Building & Construction WPC and NFC market trends New European market and trend report is published Between 10 – 15 % of the total European composite market is covered by Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC). Main authors of the latest WPC and NFC study are Michael Carus and Asta Eder, biocomposite experts of nova-Institute. The study points out the growth potential of WPC and NFC granulates for injection moulding for all kinds of technical applications and consumer goods as well as in the automotive industry. What’s more, biobased polymers in combination with wood and natural fibres take on greater significance – applied in everything from toys to automotive interiors. The total volume of WPC production in Europe was 260,000 tonnes in 2012 (plus 90,000 tonnes of Natural Fibre Composites for the automotive industry, see Table 1). The table also shows the volume of traded granulates for extrusion and injection moulding. Direct extrusion is the dominant process in extruding, which does not require granulates as an intermediate material. Therefore, the share of granulates for extrusion is low. In contrast, granulates are used in most injection moulding applications and are traded between those involved in the process chain. Interviews conducted during the FAKUMA 2014 plastics trade fair (Friedrichshafen, Germany) found a growing portfolio of fibre-filled granulates offered both by producers and retailers (Table 1); by now there are about 60 producers and retailers active on the European market. Table 1 also shows growth opportunities for WPC and NFC granulates in injection moulding for all kinds of technical applications and consumer goods. Accounting for improved technical properties, falling prices and higher delivery volumes, the authors predict an increase from 10,000 t in 2012 to 100,000 t in 2020. Additional incentives could probably more than double the size of the market. Compared with WPC, NFC granulates are predicted to gain only in niche markets with specific needs. The development of traditional WPC market in construction is less dependent on incentives as Table1 shows. The level of market penetration of bio-based composites varies between different regions and application fields. Germany leads in terms of number of companies as well as in production figures. The typical production process in Europe is extrusion of a decking profile based on a PVC or PE matrix. The increasing market penetration of WPC in decking has meant that WPC volumes have risen strongly and that today, Europe has reached a mature WPC market stage. The recent nova-study predicts growth, especially in the Germanspeaking area, on the back of a recovery in construction, especially in renovation, and a further increase of WPC share in the highly competitive decking market. Also, variations of WPC decking models, such as capped embossed full profiles or garden fencing are on the rise across Europe. An example for innovative use of decking profiles is a basketball out-door field made of the WPC-decking board of the German company Novo-Tech (Fig. 1). The particular advantage of the WPC-outdoor sport flooring is that its technical properties are very close to the traditional indoor floor of sport halls and additionally WPC material offers weather-resistance and a non-slippery surface. WPC is increasingly used to produce furniture, technical parts, consumer goods and household electronics, using injection moulding and also processes other than extrusion such as special forms of injection moulding, thermoforming and blow moulding. New production methods for extrusion of broad WPC boards are also being developed. WPC boards are a more recent trend outside the automotive sector, but small-scale production has been available for over five years. These are produced in a continuous in-line extrusion process to manufacture the panels, which can be thermoformed in a second step. Alternatively, wood panel board equipment can be used to make WPC boards. Equipment is commercially available from e. g. Qingdao Guosen Machinery, China. Early developments in this sector are the work by Bison-Werke Bähre & Greten, Springe, Germany, who claimed Table 1: Production of biocomposites (WPC and NFC) in the European Union 2012 and forecast for 2020, Source nova-Institut GmbH 2015 Biocomposites Production in 2012 Forecast production in 2020 (without incentives for bio-based products) Forecast production in 2020 (with strong incentives for bio-based products) WPC Construction, extrusion 190,000 t 400,000 t 450,000 t Automotive, compression moulding & extrusion/ thermoforming 60,000 t 80,000 t 300,00 t Technical applications, furniture and consumer goods, mainly injection moulding 10,000 t 100,000 t >200,000 t Traded granulates for extrusion and injection moulding 40,000 t 200,00 t >300,000 t NFC Automotive, compression moulding 90,000 t 120,000 t 350,000 t Granulates, injection moulding 2,000 t 10,000 t >20,000 t 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/15] Vol. 10

Building & Construction Figure 1: Megawood outdoor sport flooring. Source: Novo-tech 2015 a German patent DE2743873A “Verfahren zum Herstellen von plattenförmigen Formwerkstück-Rohlingen” (Method for making plate-shaped moulding material) as early as in 1977. The latest innovation in boards are lightweight boards featuring two WPC skin layers with a thickness of up to 3 mm, combined with a honeycomb core of pure polymer. Very good thermoformability, easy processability, resistance to water and various chemicals, and recyclability describe the advantages of GORCELL, a product from the Italian business unit of German company RENOLIT COMPOSITES: RENOLIT GOR S.p.A., that can be used in various indoor and outdoor applications. The exhibition booth depicted in Fig. 2 shows the design possibilities of thermoformed WPC honey comb boards. By: Michael Carus and Asta Eder nova-Institute Huerth,Germany The short version of the report can be downloaded for free at: Customers will receive a 30 % discount code for the Sixth WPC & NFC Conference Cologne, 16 – 17 December 2015 in Cologne, Germany. SHAPING SMART SOLUTIONS Figure 2: The latest innovation in terms of boards are lightweight WPC-boards for indoor and outdoor applications, Source: RENOLIT GOR S.p.A 2015 Register now! 5/6 November 2015 MARITIM proArte Hotel Berlin For more information email: bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/15] Vol. 10 13

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