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Engineered Process Additives for the Global Wood-Plastics Composites Market

Struktol Company of America


P.O. Box 1649, Stow, Ohio 44224-0649 USA www.struktol.com
By Juan Bravo November 2007 China
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Background
Current North American industry status: Volume approximately 750,000 T Growth driven by decking market Growing at 10-15% per year now slowing Only 20-25% of total material used for outdoor decking Expected to be 40-50% by 2015 Formulations becoming much more complicated and engineered Producers looking for expanded markets Railing, fencing, windows, interior trim panels Trends: Weight reduction driving product development and technology High polymer pricing driving cost reduction

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Polymers used for WPC in N. America Market Size = > 750,000 T


3% 10% 12%

PVC PP PE Other

75%
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Market: North America vs. Europe North America: Dominated by HDPE+wood fiber-based decking and accessories. Extrusion dominates. Products get strength from mass and design not formulation. The majority of manufacturers formulate their own products. Injection molding and functional trim products starting to grow.

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Market: North America vs. Europe Europe: Much smaller market currently at 50,000 MT Market primarily PP with wood and other fibers Formulation design first, then find the application that fits Much less interested in efficiencyfocus on engineered products More extensive use of coupling agents Applications more wide ranging

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Latin-America Still emerging market at this time. PVC is most prevalent with some PE and PP being used. Current focus is on compounding WPC pellets for resale. Market progress hampered by lack of raw materials. Although many types of fibers available, (coconut, coffee, agave, etc.) there are few companies processing these fibers. Colombia has many trees, but no national company preparing flour or fibers for WPC market.

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Market Drivers The cost of lumber and treated lumber continues to soar. Lumber is in tight supply for construction applications. The general public has a growing acceptance of woodplastic composites as an alternative to wood. WPCs are perceived as being environmentally friendly Contractors becoming more comfortable with installation and construction ICC code requirements driving product improvement and development Local code restrictions are driving product development, example flammability requirements in California market
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Organic Fiber-Plastic Composites Have gained gained acceptance in the marketplace vs. wood: Can be formulated for microbial resistance. Does not splinter like wood. Better dimensional stability than wood. Can be made of recycled materials and are recyclable themselves. Requires less maintenance than wood. At this time are not used in many structural applications due to flexural modulus, but advances are being made.
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Product Limitations Properties and items that need to be improved include: The flexural modulus and tensile strength significantly lower than that of wood. Composites containing 50% or greater wood fiber can still be adversely affected by moisture (warping and tannin staining) and microbial action There is a lack of standardization among the various sources of fillers (i.e., particle size distribution, cleanliness) There are stability and weathering issues (significant color fading) with olefin based products Very expensive vs. traditional products
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Organic Fiber-Plastic Composites Consist of 3 essential ingredients: Organic flour or fibers Polymer Additives Processing: Extrusion Injection Molding Calendaring Compression Molding
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Desired Product ???? Deciding what wood-plastic composite product to manufacture:


Depends on raw materials available. May depend on region. Coconut or coffee flour vs. rice hulls or oak flour. PVC vs. PP.

Depends on available machinery. Depends on regional market. Products for USA vs. Latin America. WPC decking very big in USA, but not in Mexico or Chile for example.
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Typical Formulations - Polyolefins Polymers: PE, PP alone or in combination. Fibers and Flours: Up to 75% by wt. in PP, somewhat less for PE: 60%. 10 60 mesh (2,000-180 m), maple, oak, pine, etc. Other fibers Mineral Fillers: 5-20% by wt. carbonate, clay, etc. Lubricants: Up to 6%. Optimized blends containing metallic stearates. Optimized blends that do not contain metallic stearates in cases where couplers are being used.
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Talc, mica, calcium

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Typical Formulations - Polyolefins Other Additives Coupling Agents (maleic anhydride and silanes) Color Masterbatches UV Stabilizers Antimicrobials

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Typical Formulations - PVC PVC (medium or high K value) Fibers and flours: Up to 60% by wt., but 20-40% typical. Particle size: 40-120 mesh (425-125 m) Other fibers: rice hulls, bamboo, coconut, paper, etc. Mineral fillers: Calcium carbonate, 5-25% by wt. typical. Lubricants: Up to 6% Basic replaced with more advanced packages that contain other lubricants. Other Additives Tin stabilizers (North America): 0.5 - 2% Acrylic process aids: 0.25 1% Impact modifiers (ABS, Acrylic, CPE): 2 8% Foaming agents are common in PVC.
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WOOD-PLASTIC COMPOSITES SOME EXAMPLES

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Trex Virginia, Nevada

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CertainTeed Michigan: Will no longer manufacture this product

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Andersen Windows - Minnesota

60% PVC y 40% pine flour Various patents in the US

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Correct Deck Maine, USA

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Universal Forest Products - Wisconsin, USA

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Louisiana Pacific - Alabama, USA

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TimberTech - Ohio, USA

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Fiber Composites - North Carolina, USA

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LDI (Formerly Kadant Composites)- Wisconsin, USA

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Integrated Composite Technologies - Georgia, USA

Out of Business

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Teel Plastics GRT - Wisconsin, USA Injection Molded WPC

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CPI Plastics- Ontario, Canada

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Silvadec SA - France

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Techwood The Netherlands

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Screentight/Royalwood South Carolina, USA

ABS Foamed Coextruded

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Fasalex - Austria

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Modwood Australia

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Ecomadera- Mexico

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WPC PROCESSING

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Raw Materials: Organic Flour/Fiber Supply

Its very important to secure a good supply of organic flour to cover expected consumption. Switching from one supplier to another can cause many processing problems and impact physical properties. Something as simple as a change in particle size and/or particle size distribution can cause serious problems. In cases where not enough of one type of fiber is available, mixes can be made using different fibers. Care should be taken to always use the same ratios once established.

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Type of Fiber and Particle size:

Physical properties of end product will depend on organic fibers used and their particle size: For example, in very general terms for PVC: Physical properties are better with pine flour than with maple or oak. Physical properties are better with larger particle size (larger mesh size). Particle size distribution: Particle size distribution changes can affect processing and may require changes in additive loadings.
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Raw Materials: Polymer Selection


Availability of polymers.

Depends on desired end product and physical properties. PVC is very weather resistant. PP is more rigid than PE, but requires higher processing temperatures.

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Processing: Drying Organic flour normally contains between 6-10% moisture by wt. even when dried in the sun. If exposed to rain can contain up to 30% moisture. Can be done as separate step prior to mixing with other materials. Has to be used immediately or stored in airtight packaging as it will re-absorb moisture from air. Flour or fibers that contain more than 1% moisture by wt. will cause problems with gassing during processing. This results in poor surface quality and low physical properties. Maximum recommended moisture: 0.5%

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Drying: In rotary ovens Was the most common form. Dry flour is used immediately or stored in hoppers/silos. Moisture in air is constant problem. Serious accidents have occurred due to fires. As part of the process using pellet mills or extruders: Using pellet mills or extruders to first produce a pellet allows some moisture to be removed. The rest is removed during second processing step. This is a much safer method but requires good venting on extruder.
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Processing: Machinery Selection Depends on desired end product: For small or special parts injection molding may be best. This requires the use of WPC in pellet form. To make these pellets a compounding extruder or pellet mill will be needed. If extrusion is the desired method, some extruders work best with pelletized WPC while other can use powder blend or pellets. Venting to remove moisture is very important.

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Processing: Additives Additives are one of the most important ingredients: Lubricants: Wet out and homogenize compound. Reduce viscosity (results in better flow). Prevents sticking producing nice surface quality. Can greatly increase output. Help optimize processing. physical properties through better

Are extremely important when using coupling agents: - Struktol TPW609 can greatly improve performance of couplers in a WPC product.
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Lubricant Selection: Depends on the type of polymer, fillers and other ingredients: PVC requires certain combinations of lubricants. Struktol TPW012 was developed for PVC. In PP and PE lubricant packages based on metallic stearates are very efficient. Struktol TPW604 (and other versions) are some of the most widely used lubricants for WPCs in the world. Metallic stearates can interfere with coupling agents and require the use of specialized lubricant packages. Struktol TPW609 is an advanced generation lubricant package that optimizes physical properties and processing in these formulations.
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Lubricant Loading: Depends on polymer type: PP = PE = PVC = 1 2% by wt. 3 5% by wt. 2 8% by wt.

Depends on total loading of organic/inorganic filler and particle size:

The lubricant should wet-out the filler surfaces. Higher surface areas require more lubricants. Depends on machinery and process conditions: Different extruders or high production rates may require more lubricants.
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Mineral Fillers: Selection depends on: Type of polymer Talc is common un PP and PE: 3 20% by wt. Calcium carbonate in PVC: 3 20% by wt.
Mineral fillers may also aid in:

Processing. In many cases talc acts as a processing aid; improving flow and surface appearance. Mineral fillers have low water absorption and impart excellent dimensional stability.

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Colorants: Colorants are chosen based on: Polymer Type Iron oxides are commonly used in polyolefins but can cause heat stability problems in PVC. Final product application Certain pigments have poor weathering capabilities. Color fading in wood composites is still an issue. Pigments themselves may not fade, but the organic fibers exposed to UV rays still can fade and bleach.

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Coupling Agents: React chemically to organic and inorganic fillers and are compatible with the polymer. Can make processing more difficult. Very important to choose proper lubricant package. Most lubricant packages interfere in some way with couplers. Struktol TPW609 minimizes interference in polyolefins and maximizes coupler effectiveness. Maleic anhydride PE and PP based couplers are used in polyolefins. Silanes are used in PVC.

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Coupling Agents:

Improve physical properties of final product. Improve Impact Increase flexural and tensile properties Reduce water absorption of final product.

Coupling agents generally used between 1 3% by wt.

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Anti-antimicrobials: Anti-microbial agents reduce the growth of microbes in WPC. These microbes can attack not only the surface of WPC products but also the inside. Microbial growth is detrimental since it can reduce physical properties. WPC products are marketed as being low maintenance compared to wood so any growth, even if only on the surface, is not well received by the customers. Most companies are taking steps to address the issue although few now guarantee against growth due to potential lawsuits.

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Antimicrobials: There are many types of anti-microbial products. Some are very expensive while others can be sensitizing to humans. It it is important to note that only zinc borate is registered for use in the US as an anti-microbial agent. Zn Borate typically used at around 2%. Possible interaction with coupling agents. It may be possible to combine certain antiantimicrobials in a lubricant package. Struktol certainly has the capabilities but would have to be studied on a case by case basis.

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Other Additives: UV stabilizers can be used with certain limitations: UV stabilizers protect the polymer but the fibers are still exposed. Fading is still a problem that is being addressed. Some UV stabilizers are rendered inactive in certain formulations.

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Struktol Additives: (Basic Products) Function like: Lubricants: Improve processing. Aid in mold release. Improve surface appearance. Adhesives: Adhesives through their sticky nature, help homogenize and mix WPC compounds. They are not true coupling agents as they do not react chemically, it is just a physical bonding. As a result of improved mixing, these additives help optimize physical properties.
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Struktol Additives:
Our additives also function as: Surfactants: They wet out the surfaces of the inorganic and organic fillers and the polymer. Combined with the other types they improve processing, physical appearance and properties.

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Struktol Additives:

Help disperse colorants, pigments and other additives producing nice uniform colors. Improve productivity while maintaining good surface quality ( more kg/hour, less surface defects. Help optimize physical properties. Lower water absorption, better impact, flexural and tensile properties. Specific packages can be developed to the customers actual product needs for improvement.

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Struktol Additives:

Are synergistic since they combine several chemistries all produced by Struktol to optimize performance. The following table shows some of these lubricant packages (individual product packages developed with customers to their needs!)

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Struktol Additives for WPC


PE
STRUKTOL TR 016 STRUKTOL TR 071 STRUKTOL TR 251 STRUKTOL TR 041 STRUKTOL TR060 STRUKTOL TPW 012 STRUKTOL TPW 604 STRUKTOL TPW 609 STRUKTOL TPW 113

PP 3 3 3 3 3 3

PVC 3

ABS

PS 3

3 3 3 3 3 3

3 3 3 3 3

3 3 3 3 3

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Product Description: STRUKTOL TPW 012 Optimized package for PVC compounds. STRUKTOL TPW 604 Highly cost effective lubricant for use with polyolefins. STRUKTOL TPW 113 Optimized lubricant package that can be used in any polymer system with or without coupling agent present. STRUKTOL TPW 609 Very efficient lubricant package offering excellent performance in the presence of coupling agents. Optimal physical properties can be obtained.
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LUBRICANT COMPARISON IN WOOD COMPOSITES EXTRUSION TRIALS

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IN PVC..

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Lubricant effect: PVC Compound

Standard PVC Lubricant Package, 1.5 phr, 50 rpm

STRUKTOL TPW 012, 1.5 phr, 50 rpm

STRUKTOL TPW 012, 1.5 phr, 100 rpm


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IN PE..

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FORMULATIONS/EQUIPMENT
Strandex license technology Cincinnati Milacron Conical Twin Screws E80 and E86 with crammer Products: 1 x 5.5 boards, 2 x 2 (2) posts Preblended formulation: Material HDPE Resin Wood Flour Lubricant Talc Phenolic Resin Pigment Masterbatch TOTAL Level, % 27 62 4 3 2 2 100

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PROCESSING CONDITIONS:

EXTRUDER PRODUCT

E86 1 X 5.5

E86 1 X 5.5

E80 2 X 2 (2)

E80 2 X 2 (2)

LUBRICANT
ZONE 1, C ZONE 2, C ZONE 3, C ZONE 4, C SCREW COOLER, C DIE ZONE 1, C DIE ZONE 2, C DIE ZONE 3, C DIE ZONE 4, C SCREW RPM CRAMMER RPM

ZNST + EBS
182 182 180 177 171 177 177 177 177 32.5 38.2

TPW 604
193 193 188 188 171 171 171 171 171 27 28.6

ZNST + EBS
177 177 174 174 171 171 171 171 171 33.1 44.5

TPW 604
177 177 174 174 171 171 171 171 171 33.1 44.5

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PROCESSING RESULTS
EXTRUDER PRODUCT E86 1 X 5.5 E86 1 X 5.5 E80 2 X 2 (2) E80 2 X 2 (2)

LUBRICANT
OUTPUT RATE, m/min. OUTPUT RATE, kg/hr.

ZNST + EBS
1.5 374

TPW 604
2.4 575

ZNST + EBS
0.9 231

TPW 604
1.5 377

% INCREASE

54%

63%

If a manufacturer has a total of 8 extruders, 4 each of E86 and E80, based on the output rate improvements making 1 x 5.5 boards on all eight machines, we can estimate that a 50% gain in output rate will be equivalent to adding 4 new extruders to his plant! Total output gained is over 1300 kg/hour. Other Observations: Better dispersion of color concentrate (less streaking) Reduced scrap levels Elimination of 1 raw material feed system
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A FINAL WORD:

The use of high quality lubricants is recommended since they can optimize performance with greater efficiency.
The two main forms of reducing costs are: Reduction of raw material costs. Increase productivity.

It is very difficult to constantly decrease raw materials costs, especially in formulations that do not contain many ingredients. Improved productivity and the reduction of scrap (off spec material) becomes the most important method to reduce costs and increase profits.
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Thank You!

Special thanks to Product Development at Struktol for their input for this presentation.

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