Natural fiber thermoplastic composites for Naval facilities

Michael P. Wolcott, Paul M. Smith, Donald A. Bender

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Extruded natural fiber thermoplastic composites (NFTCs) for the building construction industry represents a relatively new class of materials whose market growth has been rapid. In 2006, approximately 85 percent of the United State's estimated $1.0 billion (retail) extruded NFTC industry production consisted of branded outdoor decking and railing products. However these commercial offerings lack the structural capacity for industrial applications. The durable wood structural market, excluding decking and railing, is estimated at nearly $5 billion annually. This largely industrial market includes Naval and civilian marine structures such as docks and piers which still commonly use timber in many structural components. Although cost effective, chemically treated timber suffers from both durability and potential environmental problems. A variety of synthetic composite technologies have been applied to this application; however, differences in construction methods, material performance, and customer acceptance has led to slow adoption. To address these issues, perceptions of industrial users and material specifiers were assessed and a thermoplastic composite reinforced with natural fibers was developed. The primary research and development goals were to identify and develop structural, cost-effective, durable, and environmentally benign materials for waterfront structures with a superior value proposition. The result of this development effort was an extruded composite manufactured in structural shapes that could be substituted for a number of structural members on naval piers including deckboards, chocks, and whales. In addition, the structural members have been deployed in civilian applications such as pedestrian bridges and green roofs. This presentation will detail the market and technological development program including market research, section design and manufacturing. Several case studies demonstrating the application of these materials will be presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSAMPE '09 Spring Symposium Conference Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Times. New Opportunities. Are You Prepared?
StatePublished - 2009
EventSAMPE '09 Spring Symposium Conference Proceedings - Baltimore, MD, United States
Duration: May 18 2009May 21 2009

Publication series

NameInternational SAMPE Symposium and Exhibition (Proceedings)
ISSN (Print)0891-0138


OtherSAMPE '09 Spring Symposium Conference Proceedings
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBaltimore, MD

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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