Paper packaging specialist Mondi Kraft Papier has introduced a new range of polymer compounds reinforced with cellulose fibers for injection molding.
The Fibromer materials are a range of six polyethylene, polypropylene and PP co-polymer injection molding compounds with 20-40 percent cellulose kraft pulp fiber reinforcement. Mondi says they are “easy-colorable” and “scratch-resistant,” and have a higher heat distortion temperature than conventional talc filled plastics. Fibromer can easily substitute such mineral filled compounds in existing moulds and molding machines, due to comparable mould shrinkage values, according to Mondi.
The company says that it had to develop a new compounding process for Fibromer in its R&D Innovation Centre in Frantschach, Austria. This includes treatment of the typically hydrophilic paper fibers to make them hydrophobic and therefore capable of being compounded into highly homogeneous compounds with the hydrophobic polyolefins used.
Mondi is based in Johannesburg with operations in South Africa, Europe and North America.
Although Mondi described Fibromer as “dedicated for the furniture industry,” it indicates it can be used in multiple other industries including automotive. Last year, it showed a concept for General Motors Co.'s Opel sedan using the material for a map pocket along with other projects for a beverage crate and an “electric motor component.”
Mondi spoke of Fibromer advantages such as fast cycle time, low density and low processing temperature (maximum 200 degrees Celsius to avoid fiber degradation). The material has been under evaluation for a number of applications, with the first serial application expected to start running in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Mondi is not the only wood products company looking at ways to develop a cellulose and plastic compound. Timber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. has also been showing prototypes to manufacturers and designers which use scrap material from lumber production.