We at UPM Biocomposites utilize wood and cellulosic fibres and mix them with polymers to create Natural Fiber Composites (NFC). In principal, there are following standardized manufacturing technologies in use: extrusion compounding, profile extrusion, injection moulding and additive manufacturing, ie. 3D printing.
Production process in 4 steps:
All these phases have been patented by UPM. The industrial process is ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and FDA certified production. In addition, UPM Formi EcoAce is certified via ISCC plus.
1. Raw materials
The fibre based raw material is sourced from sustainable managed forest, ie. the wood material we use at UPM is certified. The fibres are either from wood or from pulp process.
For creating a biocomposite, polymer matrix is needed. There are thousands of various alternatives available in the market, but we focus on polymers that bases on biomass outside food chain or recycling. UPM Biocomposites is able to utilize biobased polymers such as bio attributed PP, recycled plastics such as rPE and fossil-based polymers.
In addition to fibres and polymers, additives are added to improve processability and properties of the product. Different categories and numerous options are available for additives.
2. Mixing of the materials
Prior to compounding some very low bulk density materials may need to be premixed in order to be able to process further.
3. Compounding to granulates
Extrusion compounding is required for biocomposite granulate manufacturing. In compounding polymer matrix and fibres are bond to each other. The uniform quality of network of bonds between fibres and polymers is continuously controlled in lab conditions.
The biocomposite granulates will be packed and delivered to further processing. Eventually, after processing end-use products are ready for the market.
Injection moulding is a technology for producing plastic based items. UPM Formi grades are specially designed for injection moulding applications.
With extrusion process objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile are created. A material is pushed through a die of the desired cross-section.