Merthyr Tydfil engineering company Design and Manufacture (D&M) has a large and diverse product range that includes structural steel work; cladding and roofing; steel staircases and fire escapes; mezzanine floors; security fencing and railings; street furniture; and shop fitting equipment.
D&M has a reputation for using materials best suited to a product's function and environment, along with the most cost-effective manufacturing processes. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics, specialised timbers and composite materials can all be found within the company's product range.
One composite material used by D&M is made from 100% recycled wood and plastic waste. Compared with natural timber, benefits include: moisture resistant, doesn't warp, crack or split in changing weather conditions; UV stabilised, rot proof and insect proof; self fire extinguishing; and vandal resistant.
Keen to see if this wood-filled polyethylene material could have wider uses, the company turned to Joining Forces Wales to find out if it was weldable. The Feasibility Study that followed a Product & Process Review involved trials using hot gas welding and hotplate welding.
TWI developed welding conditions for each process and produced joints which were visually inspected and destructively tested. The results were encouraging and showed that both processes were effective.
TWI plastics welding specialist Scott Andrews said: "It's good that environmentally-responsible firms like D&M want to explore opportunities for wider use of a material that will help conserve valuable hardwoods and absorb recycled, non-biodegradable plastic waste.
"As a next step, process optimisation trials and a testing programme could be carried out to obtain more joint performance data".
Design and Manufacture Ltd is at www.design-and-manufacture.co.uk
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Part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund