Biocomposites is an umbrella term for composites made completely, or to a significant degree, from biomass: Natural and wood fibres are combined with petrochemical or bio-based polymers to achieve very good mechanical and often even light-weight properties. The most commonly used types of biocomposites are Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC).
Existing markets and new opportunities
In the past, Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) were mainly processed via extrusion technologies (decking) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC) mainly in press moulding (automotive). For many years, research institutes and industrial labs have continuously developed WPC and NFC applications, using the materials in small series of consumer goods. Relevant volumes were only deployed in the decking market, which is still the biggest sector in the biocomposites market.
However, quite recently biocomposites have started to enter several additional markets. With the latest advances in injection moulding and 3D printing, both WPC and NFC are of high interest for a multitude of applications and fruitful new synergies are being created for new products. More and more companies specifically use wood and natural fibre plastic granulates in consumer goods such as instruments, electronic casings, furniture, tables, toys, combs or trays as well as 3D printed goods – the unique look and haptics convey high quality and value and are well received by customers. There are many opportunities for these niche materials to achieve large-scale production soon.
Benefits of biocomposite materials
Consumer products made of WPC or NFC have a different look than pure plastic products; they become noticeable, have a nice touch and reduce the use of plastic due to the wood and natural fibres or are even available completely without any oil-based materials – which improves the environmental footprint. Many of the current materials offer also special properties producers are looking for, like acoustic performance, light-weight or antibacterial properties. But the most important part: the products appeal to consumers and gain public recognition.
Signs for market growth can be found in various markets: In the furniture market, IKEA re-introduced the wood-plastic composites chair PS 2012 to its programme and offers additional new products with wood-plastic composites like picture frames. Consumer electronics offer good examples for useful products as well – a product group in which acoustic performance is an essential key to the success. In this area market leader LG has started to use the cellulose-based granulate Aqvacomp as a biocomposite material in manufacturing of loudspeakers.
The biocomposites industry meets in Cologne
The wide range of successful new technologies and applications of biocomposites in consumer goods, automotive industries and construction will be presented at the Biocomposites Conference Cologne, 6-7 December 2017 in Cologne, Germany. It represents the wide spectrum of innovative applications and material choices of WPC and NFC:
- Biocomposites in the automotive industry
- Injection moulding: granulates and applications
- Biocomposites in 3D printing
- Structural applications
- Wood and natural fibres and other raw materials for biocomposites
- Bio-based thermosets for biocomposites
The preliminary programme featuring 17 speakers is now online at www.biocompositescc.com/programme.
As in previous years, one session will be dedicated to the Innovation Award “Biocomposite of the Year 2017”. It will be granted at the Biocomposites Conference Cologne to the young, innovative bio-based materials industry for finding suitable applications and markets for biocomposite products. The focus of the award is on new developments within these areas, which have been launched in 2017 or will be launched in 2018. Producers and inventors of innovative, new applications for WPC and NFC are invited to hand in their applications until end of August: www.biocompositescc.com/award.
More information about:
- Conference: www.biocompositescc.com
- Exhibition: www.biocompositescc.com/exhibitorinfo
- Conference programme: www.biocompositescc.com/programme
- Contact: Asta Partanen, firstname.lastname@example.org
nova-Institute is a private and independent institute, founded in 1994; nova offers research and consultancy with a focus on bio-based and CO2-based economy in the fields of feedstock, techno-economic evaluation, markets, sustainability, dissemination, B2B communication and policy. Today, nova-Institute has 25 employees and an annual turnover of more than 2.5 million €.
Source: nova-Institut GmbH
Dipl.-Phys. Michael Carus
Tel: +49 22 33 48 14 40