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Weyerhaeuser Makes Breakthrough In Thermoplastic Composites

FEDERAL WAY, Wash., Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Weyerhaeuser Company, a global leader in cellulose fiber technology and sustainable forestry, today announced the launch of a proprietary, patent-pending form of thermoplastic composite that uses sustainably sourced cellulose fiber as a reinforcement additive.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120111/AQ34535LOGO)

Called THRIVE™ composites, the product will initially be used in household goods and automotive parts. In addition, THRIVE can be used in a variety of composite plastic applications, including office furniture, kitchenware, small and large consumer appliances, and other industrial goods. THRIVE composites offer several advantages over materials reinforced with short glass fibers or natural fibers such as sisal, hemp and kenaf. The product is available in masterbatch form for custom compounders and ready-to-mold thermoplastic pellets for molders.

"THRIVE composites are economical and widely available, and they are low mass yet demonstrate excellent tensile strength and flexural properties," said Don Atkinson, vice president, marketing and new products for Weyerhaeuser's Cellulose Fibers business. "These composites can improve molding cycle times up to 40 percent. Products made with THRIVE require less energy to produce and can reduce wear and tear on processing equipment when compared with those containing abrasive short glass fibers. These substantial benefits create significant advantages for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprints while enhancing performance and productivity."

THRIVE composites are currently available as cellulose blended with polypropylene with both high and low melt flow indices. Because cellulose fibers are compatible with various "workhorse" polymers, Weyerhaeuser plans to expand the THRIVE line of products beyond polypropylene to a range of hydrocarbon and nonhydrocarbon polymers.

"THRIVE products readily absorb dyes and offer excellent flowability and thin-section fill, providing manufacturers with considerable design flexibility," Atkinson said. "In addition, THRIVE composites are produced using a proprietary process that allows control of the dispersion of cellulose fibers within the polymer matrix. This allows for a smooth surface finish, which opens up new opportunities for the use of natural fibers in composite plastics. Conversely, if manufacturers prefer the fibers to be visible, they have that option as well."

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