How WPC Products Are Made
Composite materials are everywhere in modern society. Composites count as any that blend together two or more materials to gain the benefits from each, for a stronger end-product. Composite materials are always greater than the sum of their parts, and have been used by humans for thousands of years since straw and mud were combined to create strong composite bricks by ancient societies! Wood plastic composite (WPC) is crafted from – you guessed it – wood and plastic, to provide a product with the strength and aesthetics of wood that also takes on the weather and rot resistance of plastic. Let’s take a quick look at how WPC products are made:
PE vs PVC
WPC can be created using polyethylene (PE) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Each has its own special benefits and though PVC WPC is cheaper, it is rarely used for outdoor applications like composite cladding and decking. PE WPC features better water resistance, corrosion resistance, and tensile strength than PVC, and PVC WPC is more prone to fading in sunlight. Which is why we use high density polyethylene (HDPE) for all our composite products!
Once you have your wood fibres and have chosen the polymer, the last ingredient your WPC needs is the additives, which help boost the weather and rot resistance of the final material. At Assured Composites we use 12% additives to 50% wood fibres and 38% plastic particles. The additives help to boost features of the composite material like anti-UV properties, anti-aging properties, and pigment strengthening.
Specialist WPC Machining
With your wood fibres, your chosen polymer, and the right blend of additives, you now have a finished composite material with all the bespoke needs for its use! Now you’ll need specialist tools to complete the machining process. Whether it’s drilling or cutting, the shaping of the material requires the use of specialised polycrystalline diamond (PCD) machining tools like PCD endmills which will cut cleanly through the composite material without disturbing the layers within. Traditional metal drill bits and other standard tools may fail here, and can cause the back of the product to splinter and blow out as the tool presses down on the composite layers.