The Best of Both Worlds
Compounds made of wood and plastic combine the positive properties of both materials. Pinuform uses these kinds of compounds to produce particularly durable decking boards. To enhance the workability of its mixtures, the company employs a new silicone-based production aid.
The MOCOPINUS group, based in Ulm (Germany), can boast generations of experience with wood – it originated from a timber business that was founded in 1865 to ship logs across the Danube river. With some 300 employees, MOCOPINUS now ranks among Germany’s leading industrial planing mills and produces profiled timber out of Nordic spruce for sidings, wall and ceiling coverings, and decking boards.
MOCOPINUS generates some 30,000 metric tons of wood shavings during production every year. Until the late 1990s – when the market for composite materials made of wood and plastic started to grow rapidly in the USA – the shavings were mainly sold on as bedding for animal housing. “Then we realized that wood shavings are a valuable raw material that’s too good to just spread under animal hooves,” says Diethard Cascorbi.
“Wood plastic composites are weather-resistant, stable, versatile and easy-to-process materials that unite the positive properties of wood with the advantages of plastic”Martin Schmid Director Business Team Plastics + Coatings EMEA & Global Marketing
A qualified plastics engineer, Cascorbi was hired by the wood specialists in Ulm to further develop the new business field of wood plastic composites (WPCs). These consist mainly of wood fibers, to which up to 35 percent of an organic plastic is added – in Europe, usually polyethylene or polypropylene – plus fillers and additives, which ensure that the wood fibers form an optimum bond with the polymer matrix. Manufacturers are interested in as high a wood content as possible, since the petroleum-based polyolefins are naturally considerably more expensive than wood fibers. The processor then molds the mixture into the required shape by extrusion.
The Pinuform subsidiary was founded for this new business field and, in 2005, brought its first decking boards made of wood-based composite onto the market. Since the business enjoyed a successful start, Pinuform set up further production lines in Naunhof near Leipzig in 2011.
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