Figure 1: Application fields of WPC in Europe in 2012
A recently released report has shown “great potential” for the use of biocomposites in Europe, particularly in the automotive industry.
The study, conducted by the nova-Institute and Asta Eder Composite Consulting, says a total of 350,000 tonnes of wood and natural fibre composites were produced in the EU in 2012, with the most prevalent application sectors being construction, including decking, siding and fencing, as well as automotive interiors.
The report suggests China had the strongest growth rates in 2012, with a production volume of 900,000 tonnes. The report suggests it is trying to catch up North America, which has the largest WPC production volume in the world, at 1.1 million tonnes.
The study predicts in terms of future growth on the back of a recovery in construction, especially in renovation. The report suggests by far the most dominant use of natural fibre composites is in automotive interiors, with expectation for “great potential” in terms of further growth in this area as a result of lightweighting properties.
In terms of process, compression moulding of wood and natural fibre composites is an established and proven technique for the production of extensive, lightweight and high-class interior parts in mid-range and luxury cars. The report suggests process optimisations are in progress in order to reduce certain problems such as scraps and to recycle wastage.