The recent Compounding World Forum held in Philadelphia last December and organised by AMI plastics has given a very updated framework of some key topics related to the compounding industry. It was therefore the perfect event for ICMA to present the recent advances made in its laboratory with regard to the compounding technology for natural fibres.
In particular the research and development work presented, in conjunction with its partner Sonae Industria, a Portuguese conglomerate, refers to a very innovative product / technology produced and marketed by Sonae under the commercial name of Woodforce, that aims at introducing a breakthrough advance in the world of natural fibre reinforcements.
The advantages highlighted in the presentation about the new wood fibre are really numerous and in particular regards the superior performance, compared to standard wood fibre and fibre glass too, on mechanical, weight savings and scratch resistance properties together with its cost competitive levels.
The compounding trials run in the ICMA’s laboratory on a co-rotating 60 mm extruder of the MCM class was executed by mixing the Woodforce fibre with polypropylene at different output and screw configurations. An optimisation activity was performed on operative conditions of the compounding lines as well as screw configuration design. Results achieved have showed that similar outputs of glass fibre can be reached by preserving all the good properties highlighted in the previous paragraph. This suggests that Woodforce can be seen as an alternative to glass fibre but with the advantages of some compelling requirements that nowadays come, for instance, from the automotive industry, like weight savings and sustainability. A technical paper releasing most of the discoveries of this development is under preparation and scheduled to be published at the beginning of 2014 by the consortium partners.
Giorgio Colombo, Managing Director of Icma San Giorgio, said: "This is a particularly significant R&D activity that marks a really new and innovative step in the composite industry as far as natural fibres are concerned. I am happy that ICMA is part of this development because it can bring its very long and unique experience, started with Wood-stock technology in the early 70’s, in designing the right compounding line for processing natural fibre plastic composites".