Wood-plastic composites (WPC) have been an integral part of the plastics processing industry for years. The composite material is a combination of wood fibres and a plastic matrix, so that improved mechanical and optical properties and increased weather resistance can be achieved. Basically, WPCs are extruded or injection moulded on the basis of a cost-effective thermoplastic matrix, such as polypropylene or polyethylene. The production of a WPC based on a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) has only been researched to a very limited extent. Diestel et al. and Nagatani et. al. describe the moulding of WPC based on a matrix of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), or thermoplastic vulcanisates (TPV). To date, there is no known research on the injection moulding technology of WPC with a TPU matrix. This research gap is to be closed in this research project so that a cost-effective and easily processable WPC with good optical, haptic and mechanical properties (damping behaviour), as well as high recycling potential, can be generated and made available to the plastics processing industry.
The aim of the project is to develop a new material in the wood-plastic composite material class and to characterise the material properties for successful application in the injection moulding process. In particular, the flow behaviour of the wood fibre-reinforced, thermoplastic elastomer, as well as the adjustment of the fibre length distribution and the fibre orientation can be determined as characteristic variables for a successful injection moulding process. In addition, a comprehensive investigation is carried out with regard to the recycling of wood fibres (e.g. chipboard or similar), TPU, as well as WPC, and the resulting influence on the product quality is quantified. In order to finally enable a wood-WPC composite structure for application in the furniture sector, automotive or sports industry, an extensive investigation of the surface characteristics is indispensable.