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Press releases:

December, 6th 2007:

WPC: Increasingly gaining ground in the market,  production volumes growing at a two-digit rate and certified qualities

On 4th and 5th December, the nova-Institut organised the “Second German WPC Congress” in the Maritim Hotel Cologne. With more than 350 participants from 25 countries and 30 exhibitors, it was the largest European WPC congress in recent years and most important  meeting point of the industry. WPC stands for "Wood Plastic Composites", the German translation is “Holz-Polymer-Werkstoffe“. They are composites that are typically made from wood flour and plastics such as polypropylene or polyethylene. Compared to the “First German WPC Congress” in the year of 2005, a couple of positive trends became evident. For example, within two years only, the German WPC production volume has risen from 5,000 tons in 2005 to about 20,000 tons in
2007. nova-Institut estimates the present production volumes in Europe at about 100,000 tons. Germany/Austria, Benelux and Scandinavia are the leading regions.

These figures refer to the building and furniture industry. In the European automotive industry, another 50,000 tons WPC are used per annum. Terrace floorings are the most important sales market for WPC that have a market share of about 6% in this sector. Shares of 20% are considered possible for the next years, mainly as a substitute for tropical timbers. The number of applications in the furniture industry, amongst others incl. several chairs and shelving systems, has increased significantly.  

Apart from these advancements in terms of quantities, there also were important developments regarding quality. While two years ago customer expectations and properties of WPC products respectively were the focus of questions, particularly  with concern to durability in outdoor applications, this was not discussed any longer on this year`s congress. The current products are of high quality, being able to meet the customer expectations for the important properties mechanical strength, durability and colour fastness. The VHI seal of approval presented for the first time at the congress (see VHI press release) indicates this development.

The political-strategic discussion at the congress focused on the term “biomaterial” that covers the entire sector of new materials made from renewable resources. Besides WPC, also bioplastics and natural fibre-reinforced plastics fall in this category. nova-Institut estimates that these new materials do have a market volume of at least 350,000 t per year in Europe meanwhile. As for CO2 emissions, the materials have significant advantages over common materials. That`s why they should gain a similar degree of political support as biofuels and bioenergy in general. So far, however, the opposite is true: The subsidies in the bioenergy sector are steering the flow of raw materials from material utilisation to energy recovery. The result: The material utilisation sector increasingly has difficulties in getting sufficient raw material supplies in competition with energy recovery. Cascade utilisation could be a solution – here the renewable resources at first are put to material utilisation one or several times and used for energetic recovery only in the end. Because, like Dr. Sauerwein from VHI said: “You can burn it only once”.
Apart from the numerous interesting lectures on technical questions such as surface treatment, UV protection and process optimisation, the two WPC innovation awards, offered by nova-Institut (Hürth) and the Reifenhäuser company (Troisdorf), were the
highlights of the congress. From a total of 15 entries filed in time, an expert jury consisting of partners and sponsors nominated a preselection of three promising innovations each in the categories “product” and “process”. Now the congress visitors were expected to choose the winners, based on short lectures and the exhibits presented. A shelving system made from extruded WPC combshaped construction profiles with patented injection-moulded binders was chosen as the undisputed winner. With this system it is possible to tailor the particularly lightweight shelf to any lengths, ship it and let it be individually mounted by the customer. The product was developed by the young entrepreneurs of „mehrwerk designlabor“ from Halle/Saale (www.mehrwerkdesignlabor.de).

Runner-ups were the coffered decking „terraZa“ from Werzalit and the new, flexible WPC products from Wacker Polymer Systems based on PVAC. In the “process” category, it was a somewhat closer public decision. The linear vibration welding technique from the Swiss Fentech AG company (www.fentech.ch) for the production of Fibrex™ compounds for window construction took first place,
with the recipe and process engineering of Reinü-Fefa Produktions GmbH (Zeulenroda, GER) for the production of WPC made from MDF dusts from furniture construction as a close runner-up. 

The advancement of rotomoulding for coloured WPC, also on a hardwood base, from PHK-Polymertechnik GmbH of Wismar, took third place. All entries, and also the 21 congress lectures, information on speakers and exhibitors as well as partners and sponsors, are published in the 410 pages proceedings. These can be ordered via the website www.wpc-kongress.de. The print version of the proceedings costs 30,- € (ISBN: 978-3-9812027-0-0), the CD-ROM with all congress lectures and the award winners in detail 195,-€. Further information on the congress and exhibitors as well as a participant list are also available on the website.
Responsible for content: Michael Carus, MD nova-Institut

The following photos can be ordered from Mr. Gahle (E-Mail: christian.gahle@nova-institut.de):
1.  Jöran Reske, vice chairman of European Bioplastics e.V., opens up a view to  natural fibre-reinforced bioplastics for durable applications. 
2.  The TOP 3 of the categories „product“ and „process“ presented themselves on a separate exhibition stand and with short lectures for being voted by the trade visitors.
3.  A total of about 350 participants attended the lectures of the speakers during the two congress days. 
4.  For the first time a WPC innovation award was offered. It was donated by nova-Institut GmbH (Hürth) and Reifenhäuser Extrusion GmbH & Co. KG (Troisdorf). In the future the award will be offered anew at every congress, i.e. every two years.
5.  Stefan Oßwald, co-founder of mehrwerk designlabor, receives the first prize in the category „product innovation“ from Mr. Thewes (Reifenhäuser).
6.  At Fentech AG, Beat Bruderer deals with vibration welding of WPC and was awarded the first prize in the category „process innovation“. In the background: Dr. Hans Korte and Jörg Golombek.
7.  All winners. From left to right: J. Thewes (Reifenhäuser), B. Bauderer (Fentech, 1st place process), Dr. H. Korte (PHK-Polymertechnik, 3rd place process), J. Golombek (Werzalit, 2nd place product), S. Oßwald (mehrwerk designlabor, 1st place product), Dr. M. Pfaadt (Wacker Polymer Systems, 3rd place product),  M. Carus (nova-Institut), K. Nützel (Reinü-Fefa Produktions
GmbH, 2nd place process)

8.  In a festive atmosphere, contacts were made, new ideas brought forward and transactions discussed.
All photos by Christian Gahle (nova-Institut)
Download of the press release here (PDF).

October 17th, 2007:

Reifenhäuser: Direct Extrusion of WPC Decking faster than Compound Extrusion

REIFENHÄUSER will be presenting trailblazing WPC (Wood Polymer Composite) technology in its new Technology Center. A novel high-speed WPC decking line has been designed by REIFENHÄUSER through a smart  combination of the latest state-of-the art technique and know-how development. The formula for success is: Higher speed with a simultaneously more compact line design.

The new powerful “BiTrudex 75“ line of the Troisdorf extrusion specialist can produce decking profiles of approx. 2.5 kg/m at a speed of 1.5 m/min. With this performance, REIFENHÄUSER is setting the benchmark. Market standards today are approx. 0.4 to 0.5 m/min. And these considerably lower production speeds can only be achieved by means of essentially larger machines than those of REIFENHÄUSER.

The REIFENHÄUSER line can process composite materials consisting of 80 % wood with about 8 % humidity and 20 % PP. The company uses a high-performance extrusion die-head specially designed for this material mix by its cooperation partner Kosche. The resulting technical parameters of the WPC profiles are conforming already today to WPC standards coming into force in January 2008.

Key component of the line is a twin-screw extruder “Bitruder®" of the BT 75-30d series with a screw diameter of 75mm and 30 L/D. Equipped with counter-rotating intermeshing screws, this Bitruder® offers optimum prerequisites for processing of wood fibres and polyolefins. In addition, the new “REI-Maptec“ technology has been integrated.

REI-Maptec (Reifenhäuser modular abrasion protection technology) is a joint development with our affiliate company Reiloy Metall. This technology uses a special alloy for screws and barrels which are subjected to an extremely high wear in the processing of natural fibres which due to their structures show an abrasive behaviour. Thanks to REI-Maptec, service lives can be obtained that are up to three times longer than for the commonly available plasticizing units.

WPC is an important component of REIFENHÄUSER’s future strategy. Right on time for K 2007, the Troisdorf machinery manufacturer presents a further leading company which is firmy established in the WPC market. Haller Formholz GmbH will transform the cooperation duo REIFENHÄUSER / Kosche into a new WPC trio who is able to offer everything from a single source - from the wood chip to the end product - and to install the appropriate line technique worldwide.

For more information please contact:
Dieter Thewes
Reifenhäuser EXTRUSION GmbH & Co. KG
Extrusion Center
Phone: +49 (0)2241 / 481-575
Email: dieter.thewes@reifenhauser.com

The text is available on the Reifenhäuser Internet pages www.reifenhauser.com under “Press“, refer to http://www.reifenhauser.com/en/presse