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Cincinnati Milacron is gearing up for an expected growth in the European Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) market of around 20% during 2012.
It says this expected growth will come from a mix of new business and the pushing out of existing imported products from the Far East and the USA.
“We are seeing more customers coming to us looking for higher output machines after realising that their existing plant is just ‘not up to the job’” reports Steve Jones, European Business Manager and WPC processing specialist. “It is now becoming increasingly apparent that running a basic extruder with WPC is just not a viable option for successful and profitable production of WPC’s”.
According to Cincinnati Milacron, Many WPC manufacturers entered the sector with a basic entry-level extruder and little or no technology know-how. They really had to learn about WPC the hard way.
At the same time as production quantities and sales have increased, so has the requirement for more tailed expertise applied to the issues of wear resistant materials in extruder construction, and processing expertise from the extruder supplier.
Cincinnati Milacron says it has been the world leader in WPC production across a broad spectrum of polymer types and niche markets for co-extruded products for a number of years. As the production rates are increased on standard competitor extruders, more and more of these extruders are failing. Cincinnati Milacron supply replacement extruder screws and barrels to all makes of extruders as well as their own.
“The company is seeing a significant rise in enquiries for replacement screws and barrels for competitive machines due to screw breakage and excessive barrel wear”, reports Jones. “It is frightening just how many competitors screws are breaking out there in the market. As the need for more output increases producers are finding their standard extruders and barrel coating technology are not surviving.”
Cincinnati Milacron has only ever supplied tungsten-coated screws and barrels for WPC production. This was based on many years’ experience of supplying high output WPC lines throughout the USA WPC market. It explains that now, this strategy is coming up trumps as producers using Cincinnati Milacron WPC extruders are realising the true benefit of the superior quality of high resistant tungsten-coated screws and barrels. Cincinnati Milacron claims tungsten out performs other more basic screw and barrel coatings by nearly 50% in some cases. However, it is the expertise in WPC production and the science of the WPC extrusion process that really sets Cincinnati Milacron ahead of its competition.
“It’s not just wear rate we are fighting here but corrosion resistance as well”, Jones continues. “It is universally accepted that for the best quality extruded product your need to have low moisture content ingredients in your formulation. If you try to process moisture within your formulation then as it enters the extruder barrel and heats up the moisture turns to steam and forms an insulated blanket at the barrel wall and restricts the heating process from the extruder barrel heaters.”
“High wood loadings have been popular and fashionable in Europe in the past, but as these products are starting to suffer and fail under outside conditions, the need for formulation expertise and wood fibre encapsulation is now much more evident. CM has been able to extrude high wood loaded products which are popular for internal applications. But for external applications most of the large successful WPC producers choose a formulation that contains below 65% wood flour to enable a completely encapsulated product”, Jones explains.
This is the basic key to outside stability and longevity when linked with the correct processing aids and stabilisation additives. Cincinnati Milacron has long been associated with key suppliers and technology partners that can supply a viable total solution for stable and successful WPC extruded products suitable for external applications like decking, fencing and railing.
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