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Recycled PET at Core of Honeycomb Panels

rPET honeycomb cores
EconCore bets on sustainability with its honeycomb panel technology for automotive, transport, and construction applications.

EconCore, a global leader in cost-effective honeycomb sandwich material production technology, has installed a new production line for lightweight honeycombs based on recycled PET (rPET). The EconCore group comprises EconCore NV in Belgium and Germany’s ThermHex Waben GmbH focusing on production of polypropylene (PP) honeycomb cores.

The rPET honeycomb cores are made of up to 100% recycled post-consumer and post-industrial waste. They can be laminated with PET or PET composite skins to produce fully recyclable, sustainable, and lightweight panels. The developments of rPET honeycomb technology have been triggered by an increasing demand and market shift toward the use of more recyclable materials, said EconCore.

“Over the past years we have been extending the range of applications of our PP honeycomb technology, where its cost and weight efficiency, combined with excellent recyclability, were allowing for dynamic market evolutions. Then, recognizing the global problem of agglomerated PET waste, we decided to optimize the technology toward rPET materials,” said Tomasz Czarnecki, Chief Operations Officer at EconCore. “This development was immediately recognized — we just won the European Green Award and were awarded the prestigious Solar Impulse Label. But most rewarding is the interest we receive from the industry. We are already engaged in development programs over a spectrum of applications where cost, weight, and sustainability are of critical importance.”

The EconCore team is well advanced in application development for rPET honeycombs across the automotive, transport, and construction sectors. Advanced engineering plastics honeycombs are also being used in aerospace applications.

“With the rPET honeycomb technology, not only are the various industries able to improve their own impact on the environment by stripping out weight in transport, for example, but EconCore’s energy-efficient production process itself brings benefits with regard to carbon footprint positioning. It is a win all round,” said Czarnecki.

The new line is capable of producing rPET honeycomb cores in widths up to 1.2 meters, while also allowing for the processing of other thermoplastic materials such as polycarbonate, polyamide, and polyetherimide.

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