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The Sastamala area strengthens its top expertise
From by-products of arable cultivation to completely recyclable raw material for reinforcing plastic

Sastamalan koulutuskuntayhtymä is leading a development project on which a new learning environment is being created for learning to manufacture plastics reinforced with natural fibres.  The content of the totally new field of education is taking shape on the project which is also experimentally producing recyclable raw material for plastic reinforcement from local straw and oil plants.  New enterprises can still join the project, which is set to run until the end of 2012.

Jari Koskinen, Kimmo Ilèn and Esko Järvinen Granulates
Jari Koskinen (left) project worker for Sastamalan koulutuskuntayhtymä, Kimmo Ilèn, project manager with Elastopoli Ltd. and Esko Järvinen project manager for the Sastamalan koulutuskuntayhtymä by the granulation equipment.
High resolution image (1,08 Mb)
Photo: Ilari Mehtonen
Thermoplastic natural fibre granulates (known as pellets).
High resolution image (938 Kb)
Photo: Ilari Mehtonen

The guiding principle on the development project is sustainable development.  It is possible to leave a very small carbon footprint with plastic products reinforced with natural fibres when those fibres come from local fields and their use lightens the end product, which is completely recyclable either by composting or burning for energy.

The raw reinforcement material is a by-product of the fields of Pirkanmaa and Satakunta, the stalks of various types of corn and oil plants.  Better methods are being developed on the project to separate the pulp from the stalks for use in the manufacture of natural fibre reinforced plastic.  There is currently a shortage of natural fibres in the reinforced plastics industry.

In the near future natural fibre will replace fibreglass for reinforcement as fibreglass is more difficult to recycle and has greater mass and density. The mass use of natural fibre reinforcement is promoted especially by the EU requirement according to which by 2015 a European car must be manufactured from 95 percent recyclable materials.  Natural fibre plastic also enhances the competitiveness of the insulation, construction and furniture industries and also in special applications, for example in instrument building.

The development project serves to strengthen the position of Sastamala enterprises as internationally significant actors in the field of natural composites.  Significant participants in the project include the Satafood Development Association, an agricultural educational institution of the consortium at Kokemäki and Tampere University of Technology.  The new educational area and learning environment ensure that in the years to come enterprises in the field will have competent manufacturers with a good image advantage for their successful products.

To be able to test the companies’ newest natural fibre ideas the method and equipment are being created on the project to process 50 to 150 kilogrammes of natural fibre composite per hour.  The equipment and the industrial new product concept will be based on 50 to 80 centimetre wide wet web technology similar to that of a small paper machine.

The project for the development of a learning environment and training in natural fibre composites is funded mainly by the European Regional Development Fund through the Council of Tampere Region.  Those parties whose involvement is already determined are happy to take on new enterprises to strengthen the Sastamala expertise concentration in natural fibre composite.

Additional information:

Vipuvoimaa EU:lta  Euroopan aluekehitysrahasto   Pirkanmaan liitto
Sastamalan koulutuskuntayhtymä
Project Manager  Esko Järvinen
Tel. +358 50 590 0480
Elastopoli Ltd.
Management Director Markku Nikkilä
Tel. +358 50 540 8922
Pensi Rescue Ltd.
Management Director Eero Vuorenoja
Tel. +358 40 587 5467
Sastamalan koulutuskuntayhtymä
Project Worker Jari Koskinen
Tel. +358 40 137 1680

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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