SMEs praise cooperation with large industry
Valbopan is a small-sized company (SME), located in the west coast of Portugal that produces MDF and develops different and innovative products out of standard commodities. Nowadays the most important challenge to the R&D area is finding good alternative raw materials and natural binders to give sustainability to products and make it more environmentally friendly. To achieve this goal Valbopan needs cooperation with big industry partners working in the same field. Within the SUSBIND project Valbopan was entrusted with pilot production of MDF boards with natural binders.
Thanks to the the expertise and experience, Valbopan team managed to deliver 18mm MDF and 3mm HDF laboratory boards with mechanical properties suitable for evaluation at IKEA and further use in the production of prototypes. A comparison with the properties for 3mm HDF was conducted in reference to the commercial LSO and soy and with standard MDF with synthetic resin. Mechanical properties of the boards were achieved with same temperature of the press, they had less moisture of fibres, with similar addition of the binder they needed 10% more pressing time.
Promising results from lab scale testing of the binder on MDF
The mechanical results were quite good when compared with the standard product, except for the swelling in thickness after immersion in water for 24h, although the result was better than comparing it only with soy flour. For future work it is recommended to enhance the behaviour in water, by increasing the wax emulsion on the fibres.
Main R&D engineer on the project Alexandra Gouveia shares some insights from her work on the project:
The SUSBIND binder developed by Wood K plus and Egger gave us the opportunity to optimize the tax of addition on fibres and the results were very good, when compared with a traditional UF resin. During the last trials at laboratory scale with the same amount of binder that we normally use with synthetic resin we had the same mechanical properties on the boards obtained of 18mm MDF. This is very promising and keep us interested in continuing to work with this kind of binder!
To consider using the SUSBIND binder on a small industrial scale in the future it would be necessary to improve the stability in time of it by having at least two weeks of life-time after receiving it at the plant. After all the results on MDF laboratory boards the SUSBIND binder exceed the expectations in its performance with the wood fibres here at Valbopan”.