Natural fiber compound gains added strength from propylene-based elastomer (PBE)

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  • Impact resistance is improved five-fold
  • Resistance to oil, fat, water and heat
  • 100 percent recyclable

Woodyplast natural fiber compound (NFC) material of Klaus Kunststofftechnik GmbH of Germany is used for the design of the “Luis light” pallet collar frame, an iF (International Forum) award-winning product. The addition of a propylene-based elastomer (PBE) helped the company to further increase impact resistance and breaking elongation.

Frame design combines the advantages of wood and plastic

Pallets are still a commonly used method of transporting all types of goods. Pallet collar frames help to keep loads secure. A new frame design combines the advantages of wood and plastic to maximize firmness and efficiency. “Luis light” pallet collar frames, from Klaus Kunststofftechnik of Germany, are made from the company’s award-winning woodyplast NFC material.

“Luis light” pallet collar frames

“Luis light” pallet collar frames, from Klaus Kunststofftechnik of Germany

Impact resistance is improved five-fold

The standard NFC material is comprised of 70 percent wood from European spruce trees with about 30 percent polypropylene (PP) and some additives such as compatibilizers. The company discovered that by adding ExxonMobil Chemical’s Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomer (PBE) it could improve the material’s mechanical strength significantly: impact resistance is improved five-fold, from 4.9kJ/m² to 26kJ/m², while breaking elongation is increased from 2.6 percent to 9.1 percent.

“The impact resistance and breaking elongation of natural fiber-reinforced materials are lower in comparison to plastic compounds,” says Walter Klaus, managing director of Klaus Kunststofftechnik GmbH. “By adding Vistamaxx, we improved these properties significantly. Also, Vistamaxx is compatible with all polyolefins, making it easy to implement.”

Compounded and molded

Vistamaxx polymers are incorporated into woodyplast at the compounding stage. It can replace materials like TPE, EVA and PVC. The pallet collar frames are injection molded on a 1700t machine.

Three “Luis light” models are available: the “Standard” version is designed for transporting food and pharmaceuticals, and can be autoclaved; the “Entry” version is for the transportation of industrial products, including extremely heavy parts and the “ESD version” is for transporting electrical devices and is made from a special grade of NFC containing 60 percent wood and 40 percent PP with carbon fiber. Its surface resistivity of 105 to 108 Ohms, according to IEC 61340-5.1, helps to protect sensitive electronic items in transit.

High temperature resistance of 140°C

“It’s not only the material, but also its processing that provides benefits,” says Klaus. “The processing temperature and cycle times are significantly lower than those of standard polymers, which can reduce energy use.”
Another important factor is longevity: the material has a high mechanical load capacity, high temperature resistance to 140°C (284°F), and exhibits excellent resistance to oil, fat and moisture.

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