Wood-filled thermoplastic composites are nothing new. They made a first appearance in the early 1980s, with limited success as most early products failed to live up to expectation. However, things have changed markedly since the time when scratching, sagging, warping, splintering, and delaminating were still major challenges that needed to be overcome.
A new report by the Hackwell Group (its third on this subject) forecasts continuing growth to almost 360,000 tons by 2015, representing an average annual growth of 13%. Although growth has slowed compared with the 2005-10 period because of current economic woes, the outlook remains good. Or at least good enough for Sonae Industria, a leading global player in the wood industry, to introduce WoodForce, a product that the company claims is strong enough to replace glass fiber in short fiber applications, while offering a novel approach to the compounding of natural fiber-reinforced thermoplastics....