Cleveland — The rotomolding industry talks a lot about foaming and other technologies, but nobody's talking about composites using natural fibers, according to university professor Denis Rodrigue.
And he said rotomolding has an advantage when using wood fiber and other materials — the fibers do not always have to be pre-dried before using, since they spin through the rotomolding oven along with the part.
Rodrigue is a professor at the Université Laval in Quebec City.
The university did research on a dry blend wood flour to reinforce parts rotomolded with the biopolymer polylactic acid, both foamed and regular parts, he said. The plastics researchers used the Laval University's wood products laboratory.
The result was no warpage and no shrinkage, and the part does not stick the mold.
Now, Rodrigue said, the school is studying weatherability and durability of rotomolded parts made with natural fibers.
He said researchers are looking at other types of fiber, such as coconut husks, flax and hemp.