NEW MATERIALS = NEW FASTENERS?
With everything under the sustainability microscope, and innovation and efficiency continuing to drive R&D teams worldwide, the market is ripe for developing new materials with improved eco-credentials and innovative properties…
The construction industry is tackling the big sustainability question and is in the middle of a drive to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s not just a case of fastener, fixing and tool companies looking at materials, supply chain, packaging and in-house practices – some quarters of the construction industry are looking at materials that potentially can impact fastener, fixing and tool companies as connectors and tools that work optimally with those new materials. So, let’s take a look at some of the newer materials that existing screws, bolts and power tools are already being applied to.
Plaswood is pitched as a sustainable, durable and maintenance-free alternative to traditional materials. It’s made from recycled plastic products, and is – in turn – recyclable itself, which is a strong start on the sustainability side of things.
The range includes durable, weatherproof and maintenance-free decking, Plaswood lumber that will not rot, splinter or degrade with age and many other products. There are bespoke options too. Plaswood is a product of Berry Global, headquartered in Indiana in the US. Plaswood is a ‘relatively’ new construction material, having been manufactured in Dumfries, Scotland since 1995.
Bamboo has, of course, been around for a while, but the fast-growing, eco-friendly material is being used with modern techniques and is even being pitched as a construction material of the future, as well as the past. Stronger than steel, one business working with bamboo – Enter Prenda – envisages entire cities being built with bamboo modules (according to Architectural Digest) and unveiling a prototype back in 2015. There’s plenty of discussion over the best ways to secure bamboo together, with its properties substantially different to wood, requiring different approaches in terms of drilling and choice of fastener.
Pitched as a ‘wonder material’, graphene’s current applications have only scratched the surface of its potential, according to common thinking. First Graphene Limited has been among the graphene pioneers, discovering a process that produces the material at high volume and a consistent quality. While the material’s applications are still (arguably) in its infancy, how could it affect the fastener industry? Coatings is one area, according to First Graphene, which told Torque Magazine earlier in the decade that graphene offers exceptional benefits for anti-corrosion and as a general protective barrier. The material also has strong anti-vibration properties, fire resistance and even weight saving qualities when incorporated into a range of materials. A ‘wonder material’ indeed.