Pulp fibres reinforcing plastic composites

Aqvacomp biocomposite is extremely good in manufacturing, for example, musical instruments. Photo: Aqvacomp

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Aqvacomp is a new type of biocomposite that utilises pulp fibre from forest to reinforce plastic materials. A company with the very same name starts production of composite in connection with pulp mill of Metsä Fibre in Rauma. Later in 2017 the company starts production at the bioproducts mill of the same company in Äänekoski.

The granulated composite of pulp and plastics produced by the company is used in musical instruments, for example. Many references show that, in terms of its quality, the composite is even better than many rare and threatened wood species, such as ebony. What is more, the production is rapid: the fingerboard for a guitar can be produced in one minute by injection moulding.

The challenge during the development phase was combining plastics with pulp. Normally plastic and pulp repel each other. The breakthrough was to overcome this reaction. Technology also is cost-efficient; it saves energy, because the pulp has not to be dried when the production plant is just by a pulp factory.

The result corresponds precisely to specifications. Each end product can be modified by choosing right shares and grades of pulp and plastics according to ther needs. The share of pulp in the end product is typically between 20 and 40 percent.

Pulp can replace the materials used to reinforce plastics, such as minerals or glassfibre. It does not only work better, but it also is renewable and lightweight, thus decreasing transport costs.

The composite can be used in manufacturing of cars and home electronics, for example. The company aims at production with high added value. The plant will employ five persons per shift. Markets for the product are developing rapidly, especially in Asia.