Recycled PET honeycomb

EconCore successfully conducted two years of research, learning how to optimally process the reusable resource-based polymer into its continuously produced honeycomb core. The company announces that recycled PET (rPET) honeycomb is now commercially ready and available to licence.

The benefit is a fall in CO2, along with the already established CO2 reductions from the honeycomb technology in many transportation applications, due to the fuel and energy savings during the in-service use of lower weight products.  

Recycled PET honeycomb cores, with the widespread availability of collected plastic, including bottle grade rPET flakes, offers good potential using an eco-alternative core material. It also has superior temperature resistance and mechanical properties compared to conventional thermoplastic core materials.

EconCore was awarded a grant to fund research over a two-year period from Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), a government agency that finances strategic and industrial research.

The company’s rPET honeycomb core is typically made from more than 95% recycled PET from a variety of sources such as bottles and food packaging. It is a very attractive cost-effective solution as it does not require much pre-production processing to achieve stable, temperature and strength performance outperforming PP honeycombs.

Wouter Winant, technical manager at EconCore said: “Our technology is very flexible and has proven to work with many thermoplastics already. Adapting the technology to successfully use PET and rPET honeycomb is another great step forward. By adjusting the content of additives or fillers, we can optimise the performance characteristics.

“One key aspect of the development journey was the optimisation of the processing methodology and adapting the equipment in order to increase the efficiency of the continuous honeycomb production process. We worked closely with our partners at MEAF who developed and adapted the machinery to achieve the results we were looking for.”

MEAF designs, develops and builds extrusion machines for the global packaging and plastics processing industry, based in the Netherlands.

Ardjan Houtekamer, technical director at MEAF said: “We worked closely with EconCore’s technical team over a number of months to refine the machine to achieve an optimum production speed. With EconCore’s high throughputs, extruding up to 1,200 kg per hour while using only 0.20 kWh per kg, the sheet extruders we developed are currently among the most efficient in the market.”

There are many applications that stand to benefit from using a honeycomb core with better heat and strength properties than a PP honeycomb, including automotive, general ground transportation, packaging and furniture.

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