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Polymer Pilot

 

Polymer material development

Polymer material development

Polymer Pilot offers versatile services in the field of plastic materials and composites development and processing in both laboratory and pilot scale. Our expertise covers the whole chain of material development from design and processing up to productisation. We have an especially wide know-how concerning functional polymeric materials and composites, and biobased and biodegradable material solutions to various applications.

Functional polymer materials

Our core competence is to tailor materials properties, such as flame retardancy, heat conductivity, electrical properties and functionalities, biodegradability, recyclability, barrier properties, UV-protection, antimicrobial properties, wear resistance and low friction.

Thermoplastic composites

The family of composites, meaning materials formed by combining materials together, is extensive. Our core competence includes, for example, biocomposites containing natural fibres and biobased plastics, nanocomposites for electric applications and the utilisation of industrial side streams as composite materials.

Processing of thermoplastics

Our expertise in tailoring material properties is based on long-term experience with different materials and processing methods. The facilities in Polymer Pilot enable the processing of plastics in various scales (5 g - 1000 kg). Our methods include, e.g., film extrusion, compounding, injection molding, thermoforming and foaming. Our processing facilities will be supplemented in the near future by equipment specifically designed for plastics recycling. Read more about our facilities on the Facilities tab.

 

Circular economy and biomaterial solutions

Circular economy and biomaterial solutions

Recycling of polymeric materials is one of the big challenges in the development of a more circular economy. The development of biobased materials is also a crucial part of the new plastics economy. Our expertise covers material design, recycling technologies and assessment covering the whole value chain, which enables the development of genuinely sustainable solutions.

Biobased material solutions

The development of novel biobased and/or biodegradable plastics opens up new opportunities in the sustainable plastic economy. We have over 20 years of experience with the development of natural fibre composites for various applications covering the chemical and mechanical treatment of natural fibres, such as wood, cellulose, linen, hemp, and peat, their blending with biobased or fossil-based plastics, and tailoring of material properties with additives. For example, with the development of light, foamed stuctures we can offer new environmentally friendly solutions for packaging and construction sectors.

Recycling of plastics

Polymer pilot is an expanding testbed for mechanical recycling of plastics. We offer a wide range of services related to the pretreatment of plastics waste and mechanical recycling of plastics. The development of plastics waste treatment and processing in order to enchance the quality of the recycled plastic is crucial for the development of a more circular plastic economy, and creates new areas of application for recycled plastics.

Textile recycling

Textile waste handling procedures will change considerably by 2025, when the new requirements for separate collection of textile waste in the EU come into force. The progress from collection to recycling necessitates rapid advancements in the refining processes of textile waste. Polymer pilot’s plastic processing facilities can be used for developing the recycling of synthetic textiles and fibres. In addition, Modix, which is a VTT’s in-house developed and patented device, enables the pretreatment of fibre mixtures, and textile products containing other than fabric-like materials, like quilted jackets, pillows and bed covers, facilitating the further refinement and use of these waste materials.

 

Other services supporting new plastics economy 

Other services supporting new plastics economy

Solutions based on bio and circular economy are new opportunities for plastics. VTT offers services that support companies and other parts of the value chain in their needs to adapt to the changing operational environment.

Concept development and studies

VTT has a good capability for conceptual development in line with bio and circular economy objectives, because we have a long experience in using bio-based raw materials, and we are developing both mechanical, thermochemical and biotechnological routes for plastic recycling. LCA, TEA, logistics optimisation and productisation services can be integrated into the service package.

Trainings

We provide training on plastics and bio-based solutions and their sustainable use and recycling. The training is tailored to the needs of our customers. Our training enables our customers to prepare for, for example, renewing regulation, the introduction of new technologies and the acceleration of recycling. We would like to envisage the challenges and opportunities of a new plastic economy with our customers.

Modular piloting environment

The Polymer Pilot processing equipment in Tampere consists of modular parts that allow the establishment of versatile line assemblies for processing polymer materials on a variety of scales. The initial stage of innovation in material development is supported by the ability to perform melt mixing and injection molding of specimens in batches of a few grams, while more progressed development projects benefit from the pilot-scale processing capacity.

Our piloting operations are supported by a wide range of analysis methods in the immediate vicinity of the Polymer Pilot, where, for example, the analyses directing the pilot experiments can be done quickly. Our range of analysis includes, among others: mechanical testing, imaging and analysis of thermal and electrical properties, and can be further supplemented with equipment from other VTT locations.

 Modular piloting environment

Film processing

Polymer Pilot offers comprehensive equipment and know-how for film processing and development, such as a unique pilot-scale extrusion film line. The updated film line allows both 5-layer film extrusion and extrusion coating with a 550 mm wide nozzle. The modular film processing equipment can be combined with an online machine direction orientation unit, plasma/corona pre-processing equipment, and a twin-screw extruder that enables online compounding while processing is in progress. The film line will be updated in the near future with new components such as online analytics and a wet coating unit.

Polymer Pilot also features other film processing facilities, such as a laboratory scale cast film equipment and biaxial sheet orientation equipment. These facilities can be arranged in clean room conditions if necessary.

 Film processing

Development of processing methods

We also develop processing in the form of equipment design in Polymer Pilot. Modix is ​​a processing unit developed and patented by VTT which can compact and pre-mix materials that would otherwise be difficult to feed into further processing as such. These kinds of materials include, for example, fluffy fibre materials, films, and textile products containing non-fabric-like materials.

 Development of processing methods