HELSINKI, FINDLAND (Nov. 9, 3:50 p.m. ET) — UPM, the giant Finnish forestry products company, has launched a wood-plastic composite material in granule form to target potential users of WPCs in the injection molding sector.
The composite combines polypropylene with virgin wood fibres, with the proportion of fiber varying between 20-60 percent depending on the molded product's requirements.
Helsinki-based UPM already makes WPC-based extruded products for decking and cladding under the brand name Profi. But the new composite marks a departure for UPM into supplying granules to injection molders.
“The composite is ideal for electronic and automotive industries and is a good material for furniture, kitchenware and everyday use,” according to Stefan Fors, director of UPM's Advanced Fibre Materials unit. “Our strong point is the raw material — renewable wood-based pulp fibre.”
UPM's new material can be colored and is odorless. Three grades are on sale: G for general end-users such as toymakers, tableware manufacturers and disposable consumer items. Its S type was developed for special surfaces in furniture and kitchen applications, while the T stands for technical and is aimed at companies involved in the production of electronics items.
“Because it's a composite of cellulose fiber and polypropylene, it substitutes oil-based with renewable raw materials so it is environmentally friendly with a significantly lower carbon footprint compared with conventional plastics,” said Antti Kämäräinen, UPM sales manager. “It also has though, improved mechanical qualities in stiffness and strength and is perfect for injection molding applications such as car interiors.
“It took us a year to get to this point as it's a new business area for us — but we're very excited about it.”
The new composite, which has yet to be given a marketing name, will be presented to the trade public at the Lahti Plastics Exhibition, to be held Nov. 16-18 in the southern Finnish city of Lahti, not far from its production site.
“Our aim is to find new international partners for our product and increase production with this business as its possibilities are extensive,” Fors said.