Company Launches Thermoplastic-Mineral Composite Technology

November 19, 2012

Eovations LLC, an affiliate of Universal Forest Products, is launching what it describes as a process for manufacturing "a fully fiberized thermoplastic-mineral composite that replicates the fibrous structure of wood and creates a unique combination of strength, durability, aesthetic and workability properties." The company says the composite material is a strong candidate to replace wood, wood-plastic composite, plastic and metal in a wide range of structural and nonstructural applications, including window and door components.

 A split lineal of the composite material

Eovations LLC plans to license the technology to others for use in the commercialization of products and components in applications where the new composite’s properties can provide performance and competitive advantages.

“The possibilities created by Eovations technology extend significantly beyond traditional applications for wood and wood-plastic composites," says Dick McBride, general manager of operations at Universal Forest Products. "This remarkable lineal material can be used almost anywhere a lighter, stronger, longer-lasting material is needed. Product designers, architects and engineers can use Eovations to overcome the limitations of other materials, creating differentiated new products in the factory and solving difficult application challenges in the field.”

Processes based on Eovations technology can employ a variety of polymer and mineral raw materials and a wide processing window enables finished composite properties such as density to be customized for specific applications, the company reports. The appearance of the finished material can also be tailored, with a variety of surface textures and a range of colors incorporated during processing.

 Samples of products manufactured using the composite material

Fabrication with the composite is almost identical to traditional carpentry, according to Claude Brown, Eovations VP of technology and innovation. “The material can be machined, milled, cut and drilled using basic carpentry skills and common woodworking tools. Fastener acceptance and hold is excellent using conventional nails, screws and staples. Variations of the composite readily accept common paints, allowing durable, attractive finishes to be applied during product manufacturing or in the field.”

Building materials that can be produced using Eovations technology include door frames and jambs, window components, PVC lineal reinforcements, porch and patio enclosures, decking, railings, porch planks, deck substructures, roofing, exterior trim, siding, soffit, according to the supplier. 

"We view windows and doors as ideal applications to take advantage of the strength, stability, weatherability and other properties of composite materials produced using Eovations technology," McBride states. "In particular, the dimensional stability and moisture resistance properties of Eovations composite material should be valuable to producers of windows and doors."

The company is actively pursuing opportunities to discuss licensing arrangements with leading manufacturers in the industry, he continues.  There are no plans for Eovations LLC to manufacture a line of window and door component products for sale commercially.
Thermal expansion rates lower than other plastic materials are said to make this composite an excellent alternative for use in windows and doors.