Lakda Udyog Darshan, July 2013, India.

Q1: Why wood polymer composite (WPC) is becoming more and more important for India, even though import of wood is increasing day by day?
A1: Wood plastic composite manufacturing doesn’t need logs or timbers, but this subject is a boon for wood wastes including sawmill dust, plywood sanding dust, bagasse dust, Rice husk, Jute husk and other forms of wood wastes. WPC product formation can use such natural fibre wastes ranging from 10% to 70% of formulation. Thus directly it has no relation with forests and bigger formats of wood and timbers. This way we are saving forests at the first sight and utilizing waste materials at a great instance.

India is being developed as a prominent manufacturing destination for WPC products, globally. Started reversely from international WPC trends India has picked up WPVC panels, rapidly due to all time favourite and upcoming infrastructure developments within the country. India has ‘yet to see’ situation for furniture industry.

Q2: How WPC can be compared with Wood panels and Softwood in terms of quality aspects?
A2: Please find the following properties of WPC boards made with PVC as the core polymer.

WPC boards are ideal for panel applications in modular furniture. They can withhold screw well. It has dimensional stability. Moisture and termite resistance gives long lasting durability. Surface is printable. You can apply HPL, Veneer and PVC foils. You can perform carpentry jobs just as like as the natural wood and wood panel. It has good machinability on any panel processing machine. Its polymeric structure with PVC makes WPC 100% recyclable and green material. WPC for India-in indoor applications-is the best material than any other wood panel.

Sr. No. Test Test Method Value
1 Density, Kg/m3 IS: 1734 500 – 700
2 Water Absorption, 2 hours, % IS: 2380 < 0.2
3 Water Absorption, 24 hours, % IS: 2380 < 1
4 Hardness, Shore D ASTM D 2240 > 55
5 Tensile Strength, N/mm2 IS: 1734 > 11
6 Elongation at Break, % IS: 1734 > 10
7 Screw Withdrawal Strength, N IS: 1734 > 1500
8 Nail Withdrawal Strength, N IS: 1734 > 150

Courtesy: Plamadera composites, Ahmedabad.

WPC decking or WPC lumber against softwood

Properties of comparison WPC – Smart wood Plantation timbers like eucalyptus/ poplar
Sturdier core
Recyclable material
Stronger impact resistance
Low water absorption
Mould resistance
Stain resistance
Rot and splinter free
Easy to cut, router and fasten
Easier installation
High insulation properties
Aesthetic value
Ready to use
Termite and borer resistance
Easier to clean
Easier lamination
Good printing

Courtesy: Libero world, Ahmedabad

Q3: How WPC is termed as “Green” in compare to plywood, MDF and timber?
A3: Green means the product that ‘saves nature – saves natural resources – reduces carbon foot prints – keeps environment clean – uses recycle – can be recycled – has no emission – has no process discharge’.

1. WPC saves trees by not using natural wood from forests – thus it is green.
2. WPC uses the waste wood, wood dust, plywood sanding dust, agriculture waste, and plastic waste – thus it is green as it recycles the natural resources.
3. WPC finished material itself is 100% recyclable and can be reused within the process. WPC products can be recycled anytime during its life cycle – thus is it green.
4. WPC doesn’t emit any gases as a finished product and it is E0 product – thus it is green.
5. Processing of WPC doesn’t create any process waste, waste water or chemical waste – thus it is green.
6. Natural wood, once it is caught up by termite cannot be used again in normal cases. WPC is free from borer and termite – Thus it is green.
7. WPVC like material which is self extinguishing in nature, safe, clean and hygienic-medical grade product – can give a safe and clean life to small children in schools to the employees working in close room conditions. Thus it is green.

All above parameters make WPC more “green” than natural wood.

Q4: How important is the formulation techniques for WPC where agriculture wastes also are used?
A4: WPC is the better material which can use more agriculture waste with polymers. Conventional wood panels cannot use more agriculture waste those have less fibre value and thus bagasse has been the only successful but saturated option today for particle board and MDF board making. Against WPC can use rice husk, wheat straw, just straw, bagasse, coconut powder, bamboo powder etc with more or equal ratio with polymers.

For any polymer formulations there are additives and fillers required and being used globally. Such fillers and additives are used for property enhancement, property achievement and cost reduction purposes. Polymer is a subject where many new experiments can be carried out with use of such additives. Various properties like density, fire retardancy, UV resistance, colouring, bending, heat stability etc can be adjusted with such additives. Finally fillers including mineral and natural fibre can be used effectively within the cell structure to form a WPC polymer chain.

Q5: Can WPC be recycled or it will add more plastic waste to the earth?
A5: WPC is a 100% recyclable product. WPC has a dedicated approach towards wood and allied product replacement, thus it is being used in interior or exterior applications. Country like India has derived WPC as more into interior applications than exterior as of now. WPC is not the commodity plastic but this is a speciality composite known as ‘natural fibre polymer composite’, globally. It has the best uses in furniture industry taking from partitions to modular kitchens. Life of WPC as a product is – far better than conventional MDF boards, particle boards and plywood – when it comes to moisture, termite and high water conditions in India. Next to its life, WPC can be recycled any time during its life period thus it saves the mother earth from ‘tension of de-forestation’ as well as ‘pressure of re-forestation’.

Q6: How WPC is performing in India in compare to Global markets, in terms of product acceptance?
A6: WPC has got very well acceptance in recent years in India especially in western, northern and southern parts of India. As a reverse phenomenon WPC is derived more as a panel product – for interiors – with PVC as base material. World market has got more WPC for decking in exterior applications. This phenomenon has taken place naturally because of upraising activities in infrastructure and increasing demands of panel products for partitions, furniture, doors and windows.

Within a time span of 2 years, India has become a hub for WPC boards– next to china and becoming equal to china – globally. More than 30 odd players have installed WPC board lines with manufacturing capacity of 10 cubic meters per day, each. In compare to the size of Indian market it equals to the moderate capacity ‘3’ particle or MDF board line of 100 cubic meters per day. This is a massive acceptance of product and today India started receiving export inquiries from developed countries like USA, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Australia.

Q7: How much successfully WPC is gaining the acceptance in India? What is the status of awareness?
A7: As mentioned above, acceptance of WPC is at par to the developed countries. Many new players are being added as manufacturer, dealer, distributor, furniture OEM. In terms of awareness WPC still needs more volume of production. Still product is not reached to each and every corner of India. Architects and interior designers are still not much aware with the product and its decency. Carpenters are still unknown to the product otherwise this is the best product to work with. Many players have started their demonstration centres and exclusive dealers. Education conferences and seminars are also initiated by players like Alstone and Ocean. Better event and media participations are also coming up by many players now.

WPC is a classic product when it comes to the case of pricing. It stands moderately with marine ply directly. It stands perfectly with MDF with HPL and even PB with HPL. UV coated WPVC leaves PU coated panels far behind in prices. Printed and Hot transfer laminated WPC boards are about to be launched soon which shall replace ‘Panel with HPL’ application at a high level in wardrobes, kitchens, offices, doors and other panel furniture.
Q8: What services Hardy Smith is providing for WPC technology in Indian market?
A8: We are a technology player and we are not into finished product business. We provide plant, machinery, formulations, installation and manpower for WPC Industry in India and globally. We are establishing a workshop for machine assembling and spares. We are coming up with specialty raw material making facility for WPC industry, soon. We are also planning for operator’s training school at Ahmedabad to supply quality manpower to the industry. We have a business cooperation with Battenfeld-cincinnati, Austria who the largest global player into WPC industry with 250 lines.

WPC industry, as I said has evolved within less than 2 years only so it is hard to provide any record for 5 years with reference to doors and windows. But against UPVC windows industry in last 10 years, WPVC industry’s turnover has reached to around 80 Million USD (500 crore INR) including WPC boards, profiles and WPC decking.

Q9: Who are your clients in India? Nationwide, how do you see WPC markets?
A9: All our clients are from wood and furniture background, except 2 clients from Plastic industry. During last two years we have installed lines for Duraplast (board line), Plamadera composites (board line & flooring line), Lirco composites (board line), Ecoste (board line), Pratham WPC (board line under installation) and I-green fibrex (board line). We are in talks with several corporate clients as of now.

In terms of rank in South India comes first considering the weather situation. Next to that Western part has enough potential followed by northern India. East India has equal potential like south because of its developmental scope.