Product development based on bioplastics involves choosing the optimal bioplastic for a specific application and optimising the production process (injection moulding, film blowing, thermoforming) in order to realise valuable and sustainable biobased products.
Application of bioplastics and additives
Bioplastics are plastics based on renewable raw materials such as starch, polylactic acid (PLA) and PHAs (plastics produced by micro-organisms). Bioplastic products consist of biopolymers, additives and auxiliary agents. With an increasing number of biopolymers available on the market, it is important for the industry to become familiar with these new plastics in order to develop new biobased products.
A good selection in the type of bioplastic and the use of suitable additives and fillers is essential in product development. Traditionally, various additives are added to synthetic materials such as fillers, stabilisers, colouring agents, plasticisers and flame retardants. Various additives and ‘masterbatches’ specifically suitable for new, biobased plastics have been developed over recent years for a number of bioplastics.
Processing bioplastics into products
Bioplastics are suitable for common plastic processing techniques such as extrusion, injection moulding, thermoforming and film blowing. Many bioplastics include grades that are specifically suitable for injection moulding or film blowing, for example. Although datasheets can provide good indications for the choice of process parameters, many companies require additional support for processing of these new materials. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research can give this support.
Advice on bioplastic compound development
Upon request we can also provide companies with advice on so-called ‘bioplastic compound development’. Complex combinations of biopolymers and additives often give the best results in an end product. Although there are ready-made bioplastic compounds on the market, they frequently fail to meet the manufacturers’ specific product demands. At Wageningen Food & Biobased Research we combine our knowledge of commercial availability, material characteristics and processing with manufacturer requirements, and provide advice on the best possible compounds.
Technology hall and testing laboratory
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is a European leader in the field of product development based on bioplastics. We develop compounds and products on behalf of companies. Our technology facility includes various (twin screw) extruders with flexible screw configurations and layouts, two injection moulding machines, and facilities for (multi-layer) film blowing and casting. The scale applied for research and support of practical tests varies from a few to 1000 kilograms of plastic material. In addition to pilot production facilities we have an extensive polymer testing laboratory including mechanical, thermal and chemical analysis facilities.