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Coupling agents widen performance regime of wood-plastic composites

SpecialChem / May 31, 2006

The rapid expansion of the wood-plastic composites industry over the past several years is largely based on the performance advantages they provide over competing wood materials. These advantages include better flexural and impact strength, better moisture resistance, less shrinkage, and improved weatherability. A key element behind these improvements are the additives incorporated into wood-filled plastic formulations. Perhaps the most important of these additives are coupling agents - chemicals which enhance the compatibility of the nonpolar plastic resin molecules with the highly polar cellulosic wood fillers. Coupling agents help transfer the inherent strength of cellulosic wood fibers to the surrounding plastic by improving the bonding between cellulose molecules and hydrocarbon-based polymers. They also aid in dispersion of the wood fillers. Coupling agents are used in combination with other additives. Among them are lubricants, heat stabilizers, light stabilizers, colorants, biocides and foaming agents.

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