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Wacker to Display Natural Fiber Composites for Flooring and Furniture Industry at BAU 2011

Published on 2011-01-18. Author : SpecialChem

Munich -- Wacker Chemie AG is showcasing its novel composites for interior applications at BAU 2011, the world's leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems taking place in Munich, January 17 through 22. Wacker has teamed up with partner firms to develop natural fiber composites or NFCs. These materials, which can be used to produce innovative floor and wall coverings, are made by combining natural fibers such as cork, leather and wood with VINNEX®, a brand of specialty powder binders based on vinyl acetate and ethylene (VAE) copolymers. This binding technology forms the basis for turning recycled scrap leather into flooring and furniture coverings, or for integrating slate and cork into easy-to-install flooring that feels warm underfoot. Wacker's new product platform for processing natural fibers opens up a wide variety of innovative applications, particularly in the flooring, interior-finishing and furniture industries.

At BAU 2011, Wacker will be presenting what are known as natural fiber composites, i.e. composite materials made of VINNEX® binding powders and natural materials such as cork, wood, leather and slate, that can be used to create novel floorings and wall coverings. Working with its partners, Wacker has pursued projects spanning multiple companies in an effort to create floor, furniture and wall coverings with innovative properties. At the heart of these new developments is VINNEX®, a patented powder binder from Wacker that does an outstanding job of binding natural fibers such as cork and wood, while bonding extremely well to a tremendous array of substrates.

Cork Polymer Composites Create Natural Stone Flooring That Feels Warm Underfoot

Slate-cork flooring made of Indian slate, natural cork and VINNEX® is a good example of how this works: the surface of the product is comprised of a millimeter-thin layer of slate, on the back of which is a thin, warming layer of cork that smooths out any irregularities in the stone. This flooring is created by first taking cork, which can be obtained from production waste, combining it with Wacker's VINNEX® powder binder and processing this blend into pellets known as cork polymer composites (CPCs). CPCs are then pressed to form cork polymer sheets that are simultaneously sandwiched with the wafer-thin slate. The resulting cork-slate sheets are bonded to woodfiber boards that have been processed into click-lock flooring panels. Consumers can then install the new cork-stone floor easily and without any joints - much like ready-to-install parquet flooring.

There are many advantages to this new type of flooring. For one, the cork layer on the back of the slate feels pleasantly warm underfoot and is more comfortable as a result. Second, the cork fibers absorb sound, reducing the noise produced by footsteps. And finally, the stone surface is fireproof, very stable and hard-wearing, making it perfect for entryways, foyers, hotel lobbies and areas around hearths, stoves and open fireplaces.

Regenerated Leather from Cutting Scraps

With the use of VINNEX® powder binders, scraps from leather processing can be treated and converted into new materials. For example, this regenerated leather can be transformed into durable flooring tiles. To do this, the cutting waste from the leather industry is compressed into pellets and processed along with VINNEX® powder binder to yield leather sheeting. A specially adapted calendering process creates leather polymer sheeting just one millimeter thick, in rolls roughly 1.70 meters wide. Potential applications for this product include furniture and wall coverings, floorings or panels used in car interiors for side trims or center consoles.

Recycling Renewable Resources

Key features of the new natural fiber composites include recyclability, value-added marketing of scrap materials, and energy efficient thermoplastic processing. Wacker with its partners now offer a complete project platform revolving around natural fibers and is fueling the trend toward sustainable development by recycling renewable resources. The new materials conserve resources and make efficient use of raw materials: they are based on renewable resources such as wood, cork and leather and production remnants can potentially be used.

The new NFC materials can be utilized in a broad range of interior applications, such as floorings, wall and ceiling coverings, and finishes for furniture and cars. NFC material applications will be on display throughout Wacker's BAU 2011 booth - from leather wall coverings to slate covered seats.

About Wacker

Wacker Chemie AG is a globally operating chemical company headquartered in Munich, Germany. With a wide range of state-of-the-art specialty products, Wacker is a leader in numerous industrial sectors. Its products support countless high-growth end-user sectors such as photovoltaics, electronics, pharmaceuticals and household/personal care products. The Wacker Group posted total sales of about EUR 3.7 billion in 2009, of which some 80 percent were generated outside Germany. Wacker employs approximately 15,600 people at 26 production sites in Europe, the Americas and Asia, and about 100 sales offices worldwide. Wacker Chemie AG is listed at the Frankfurt (Germany) Stock Exchange.

Source: Wacker

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