By combining its cost effective production technology with renewable materials, EconCore, based in Leuven, Belgium, is able to produce a sandwich panel which is said to have excellent mechanical properties while still being cost competitive with traditional sheet materials.
“The last 6 months EconCore has optimised the production technology to produce PLA [polylactic acid] based hexagonal honeycomb cores using a continuous production process," says François de Bie, head of sales and marketing, EconCore. "Only moments after the core is produced skin layers are added in a second step of the continuous production process.”
These skins could be made from unfilled PLA material to make a mono material panel or, in case a higher performance is required, could be replaced with consolidated flax in a PLA matrix.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biopolymer used which can be used to make, for example, packaging, consumer goods and furniture and is derived from renewable resources instead of oil. Derived from 100% annually renewable resources such as plants, PLA generates significantly less greenhouse gas emissions over the life time when compared to traditional materials like PP.
"Today, the exploitation of the economical advantages of weight reduction has become essential for many industries,” says de Bie. “Bio-based polymer materials are still relatively expensive compared to for example PP [polypropylene] alternatives which has limited the use of these materials in structural applications. Bio-based sandwich panels can be used in for example re-usable packaging, furniture, automotive interiors or separation walls.”