The perspectives of some plastics industries have changed dramatically in the last decade. Interest has been fuelled by the success of several WPC products, greater awareness & understanding of wood, developments from equipment manufacturers & additive suppliers & opportunities to enter new markets, particularly in the large volume building applications sector. Forest product industries are changing their perspectives as well. They view WPC’s as a way to increase the durability of wood with little maintenance on the consumer’s part (one of the greatest selling points). Some forest products companies in the USA are beginning to manufacture WPC. These ventures into WPC’s are being driven by customer demand & opportunities based on experience in building products.Milestones In The Commercialization Of WPC’s In the USA, WPC’s have been produce for several decades & even much earlier in Europe. However, major growth did not occur until fairly recently. Some of the major milestones are described in this section.
In 1983, American Woodstock, now part of Lear Corporation in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, began producing automotive interior substrates using Italian extrusion technology. Polypropylene extruded with approximately 50 % wood flour was extruded into a flat sheet that was then thermoformed into various shapes for automotive interior paneling. This was one of the first major applications of WPC technology in the US deck floor.
In the year 1991,Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT, Junction Texas) and a division of Mobil Chemical Company that later became Trex (Winchester, Virginia) began producing solid WPC’s consisting of 50% wood fiber in polyethylene. These composites were sold as deck boards, landscape timbers, picnic tables & industrial flooring. Similar composites were milled into window & door component profiles. Today, the decking market is the largest & fastest growing WPC market How to lay Laminate flooringing.
In 1993, Andersen Corporation (Bayport, Minnesota) began producing wood fiber – reinforced PVC subsills for French doors. Further development led to a wood – PVC composite window line. These products allowed Andersen to recycle wastes from both wood & plastics processing operations.
In the early 1990’s Strandex Corporation (Madison, Wisconsin) patented technology for extruding high wood fiber content composites directly to final shape without the need for milling or further forming. Strandex continues to license its evolving technology.
The Current Status on Technology Of WPC’s
Although the WPC industry is still only a fraction of a percent of the total wood products industry, it has made significant inroads in certain markets. According to estimates, the WPC market was 320,000 MT in 2001 and the volume is expected to more than double by 2005 laminate flooring.