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WOOD-PLASTIC COMPOSITES | MATERIALS


Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are finding use in a range of new applications – including, potentially, window frames. Lou Reade reports


Wood effect: latest developments in WPCs


Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are fully estab- lished on the market as a material for making decking and other outdoor products, but so far has had a limited effect on one of the most lucrative construction products: window frames. However, at the recent Profiles conference in


Cologne, Germany – organised by AMI – Daniel Friedrich, a researcher at Compolytics in Germany, told delegates about the potential of using WPC materials for window frames. While the majority of WPCs are used for applica- tions such as decking and fencing, Friedrich said that a few WPC window frames already exist – though there are pros and cons to their performance. On the plus side, he said the materials had the potential to improve environmental performance and contribute towards a more sustainable use of natural resources. This comes from replacing up to 45% of the pure PVC in a window frame with wood flour, or similar wood-based filler. WPC-filled PVC compares favourably against


most traditional window profile materials, he said. Against PVC, he said it had higher stiffness, better


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sustainability (due to lower carbon emissions) and a higher ‘energy storage’. This last point refers to the amount of energy – in the form of heat – that it transmits in use. The end result is that less heat is lost from the house to the outside. The material also performs well against pure wood – having better resistance to fire, moisture and weather effects. Compared with aluminium, it has lower thermal conductivity, better energy storage, lower cost and higher sustainability. Critical parameters used in the building industry, such as U-value (which measures heat transfer) and the lambda-value (thermal conductivity) are superior with WPC materials, he said. “PVC can be ‘greened’ with wood fibre,” said


Friedrich. “However, there is an optimum level of around 40% loading.” However, while WPC windows can improve


energy efficiency, and wood fibres replace more expensive PVC resin, the windows are more expensive than traditional PVC windows because of the cost of processing them.


Main image: WPC window frames could offer advan- tages over those made of wood – and even PVC


� November/December 2019 | PIPE & PROFILE EXTRUSION 13


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