Responding to the demand for more sustainable and eco-friendly materials, Bausano, an Italy-based manufacturer of custom extrusion lines, is now offering extrusion lines that are specifically configured for processing plastic waste and natural-fibre composites, the company says.
Wood dust, rice husks, coffee grounds, banana peels, seaweed, almond shells, avocado kernels, cork and other plant residues - these and more are being experimented with to produce new, natural-fibre reinforced composite materials.
According to Bausano, the market for composites based on natural fibres is currently undergoing significant growth, among others, due to to their recyclability and low cost.
As well, these composites feature performance characteristics, including good corrosion and UV resistance, that make them highly suited for applications such as cladding, furniture and indoor and outdoor flooring, and especially decking.
“The plant fibre-plastic composite materials are a valid alternative in construction and architecture,” said Clemente Bausano, Vice President of tBausano. “In fact, they are part of a circular economy perspective: for example, the wood used is usually a product of waste from the furniture industry that is recycled to be extruded again, thus limiting deforestation.”
Lightweight, plant fibre-plastic composite materials are also increasingly finding application in the automotive sector, for the internal lining of door panels, dashboards, trunks and others.
Bausano has redesigned its extrusion lines to be able to incorporate up to 100 phr (parts per hundred resin) of wood or natural fibre. The specific counter-rotating twin-screw configuration makes it possible to achieve an accurate mixing between melted polymer and fibre, passing it through the mould without the need for a melting pump. Specifically, profiles can be directly extruded from the raw material, known as direct extrusion, or the material can be processed starting from the granule (indirect extrusion).
In direct extrusion, Bausano machines allow for the processing of fibres with a humidity level of up to 12% at a three-times higher speed than comparable solutions. The granulation lines can also be used with recycled materials. The wide range of modular accessories makes it possible to customise the lines according to specification. Bausano also offers a special coating, available on request, which extends the useful life of screws and cylinders up to 25,000 hours, before replacement is required.
According to Clemente Bausano, Europe is currently the third largest market in the world for wood-plastic composites. The EU policies for the environment and climate provide significant opportunities for the growth of the sector, he said.