Elastopoli is breaking ground with its tougher-than-plastic biocomposite solution. The first production line for the AqvaComp biocomposite is already being manufactured at the company’s headquarters in Sastamala. From there the line will be transferred next to Metsä Fibre’s new pulp factory at Rauma. The production at the plant is planned to start in the beginning of 2017.
“Elastopoli had developed a great technology for preparing composites based on wood pulp (from sustainable Finnish forestry) and traditional fossil-based or sustainable bio-based polymers. The initial commercial applications were in the musical instrument sector where the superior haptic and acoustic properties of the bioplastic made it pretty much indistinguishable from mahogany and rose wood – with the exception that as our material doesn’t absorb moisture, the musician doesn’t need to constantly re-tune their instruments”, explains Keith Simons, the Innovation Director of Elastopoli.
“Our materials however, had much greater scope (the cellulose fibres from the tree imparting great strength to the plastic) – but our production capacity was limited. Working in partnership with the team at Spinverse, we successfully applied for phase 2 SME Instrument funding from the European Commission. This funding has provided a major boost to the company. Not only did it allow us to expand our marketing efforts in Europe and Asia, but it also allowed us to scale-up our production capacity to deliver trial quantities for customers to evaluate”, Simons continues.
According to Spinverse’s Senior Project Manager Joni Turunen the competition for the EU commission’s SME funding is fierce and a company must have unique innovation as well as a good perception on how to utilise it. Elastopoli has managed to do both. “The process enables to combine the nanocellulose and long pulp fibres to the plastic while they are still wet. The structure of the fibres stay intact which gives excellent strength to the composite. This supports the requirements of lighter materials in the automotive industry”, says Turunen
The demand for lighter, stronger and cheaper composite materials in the automotive, electronics and packaging industry is continuously increasing. “Customer confidence in our materials is leading to our production company Aqvacomp Oy expanding production to Rauma to satisfy increasing customer demand for using our materials in home appliances and automobiles – exploiting the low-weight, high strength, haptic and acoustic properties of our materials”, Simons concludes.
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