This is good news for the environment, with an industrial solution to a recognised global issue. Recycled PET honeycomb cores, with the widespread availability of collected plastic, including bottle grade rPET flakes, offers excellent potential using an eco-alternative core material. It also has superior temperature resistance and mechanical properties compared to conventional thermoplastic core materials.
Globally, the annual consumption of plastic bottles could be over half a trillion by 2021. Recycling efforts so far cannot keep up and the damage to the ocean and other environments is a concern to governments worldwide.
EconCore was awarded a grant to fund research over a two-year period from Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), a government agency that finances strategic and industrial research.
The company’s rPET honeycomb core is typically made from more than 95% recycled PET from a variety of sources such as bottles and food packaging. It is a very attractive cost-effective solution as it does not require much pre-production processing to achieve stable, temperature and strength performance outperforming PP honeycombs.
Wouter Winant, technical manager at EconCore said: “Our technology is very flexible and has proven to work with many thermoplastics already. Adapting the technology to successfully use PET and rPET honeycomb is another great step forward. By adjusting the content of additives or fillers, we can optimise the performance characteristics.
“One key aspect of the development journey was the optimisation of the processing methodology and adapting the equipment in order to increase the efficiency of the continuous honeycomb production process. We worked closely with our partners at MEAF who developed and adapted the machinery to achieve the results we were looking for.”