Don Atkinson, vice president, marketing and new products for the company’s cellulose fibres business said that the composites are low mass, yet demonstrate improved tensile strength and flexural properties. “These composites can improve moulding cycle times up to 40%. Products made with 'Thrive' require less energy to produce and can reduce wear and tear on processing equipment when compared with those containing abrasive short glass fibres,” he added.
Weyerhaeuser said the material can be used in a variety of composite plastic applications, including office furniture, kitchenware, small and large consumer appliances, and other industrial goods. The product is available in masterbatch form for custom compounders and as ready-to-mould thermoplastic pellets for moulders. Weyerhaeuser will use its substantial pulp manufacturing facilities and established global logistics channels to produce and deliver the product to customers around the world. The composites are now available as cellulose blended with PP with both high and low melt flow indices. They are claimed to absorb dyes and offer excellent flowability and thin-section fill, providing manufacturers with considerable design flexibility. Weyerhaeuser plans to expand the "Thrive" line of products beyond polypropylene to a range of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon polymers.
The launch of “Thrive” follows closely the announcement by the nova-Institut (Hürth / Germany; www.nova-institut.eu) of significant industry interest in its recently-concluded project to develop industrial scale natural fibre pellet production to reinforce bioplastics in injection moulding and extrusion – see Plasteurope.com of 25.10.2012.