Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are composite materials formed by combining wood-based elements and plastic fibers. WPCs can be manufactured entirely from recycled materials obtained from wood product manufacturing facilities along with the plastic powder.
WPCs are also called composite timber and are widely used for the construction of outdoor deck floors, prefabricated houses, park benches, door frames, and indoor and outdoor furniture.
This article explains the manufacturing, features, and advantages of WPCs in construction.
Manufacturing of Wood-Plastic Composites (WPCs)
Wood-plastic composite is manufactured by thoroughly mixing ground wood particles and heated thermoplastic resin. Finally, the whole mixture is extruded into the desired shape. The commonly used thermoplastic resins are polystyrene (PS), polylactic acid (PLA) and polypropylene (PP).
The mixing and extrusion processes vary based on the manufacturing facility. WPCs comprise organic raw materials, demanding processing at a lower temperature than traditional plastic composite to facilitate extrusion and injection molding. The ratio of wood to plastic in the composite determines the melt flow index (MFI) of WPC. Large amounts of wood leads to lower MFI.
Features of Wood-Plastic Composites (WPCs)
- WPCs are created from a combination of substances prepared in a paste texture. Hence, they are molded to any required shape and sizes.
- WPCs can be dyed or colored to match the required design specifications.
- WPCs are durable aesthetically and integrally compared to normal wood because the composites are moisture and rot-resistant.
- WPCs are more heat resistant than typical lumber.
- The drilling, planning and sanding works on WPCs are performed similar to normal wood works.
- The incorporation of additives during WPC manufacture gives a product improved dimensional stability than normal wood.
Advantages of Wood-Plastic Composites (WPCs)
- WPC materials are termite-proof and waterproof.
- WPC boards provide a good surface finish without painting, staining, and oiling.
- WPC materials require less maintenance and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
- WPC materials are durable compared to normal wood and have a longer life span.
- WPC floor decks are slip-resistant.
- WPC materials are available in different colors and painted with different textures.
- WPCs can be thermoformed to any curved or bent shape.
- The material is resistant to ultraviolet light and hence does not fade when employed outdoors.
- WPCs are made from recycled wood and plastic materials. Hence, it is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly material.
Disadvantages of Wood-Plastic Composites (WPCs)
- WPCs have a low resistance to extreme temperatures greater than 70 degrees celsius.
- Laser cutting works cannot be performed on WPCs as it causes melting.
- They lack natural wooden texture and the feeling of natural wood.
- WPCs are prone to scratches.
Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are composite materials formed by combining wood-based elements and plastic fibers.
WPCs are also called composite timber and widely used for the construction of outdoor deck floors, prefabricated houses, park benches, door frames, and indoor and outdoor furniture.