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s5_logoHanwha Azdel Inc. announced that growing demand for lightweight composites in the North American recreational vehicle industry has prompted the company to increase capacity for its Azdel lightweight reinforced thermoplastic (LWRT) composite product at its Lynchburg, Va. production facility.

The company reported in a news release it is adding more space at the plant plus an entirely new production line that is due to come on stream in second quarter 2015. Azdel panels are used to replace panels of “meranti” or “lauan” plywood for RV sidewall lamination as well as interior decorative and wood-grain plywood paneling. The lightweight composite significantly reduces panel weight; lowers sound transmission by providing acoustical damping; will not absorb water thus preserving the physical properties of the material; and offers three-times higher thermal insulation values. Additionally, third-party testing has verified that the composite is formaldehyde free.

“We couldn’t be happier that Hanwha Azdel is expanding production capacity for its Azdel composite panels,” said Joe Hosinski, vice-president of sales and marketing at Robert Weed Plywood Corp., which distributes the Azdel product. “The RV industry is actively seeking ways to reduce weight and improve the insulation values in laminated RV sidewalls. We’ve been working with Hanwha Azdel since 2007 to develop composite products that mirror the best properties of plywood while overcoming its shortcomings. We’re very pleased with market acceptance of this product and look forward to working with more OEMs now that capacity has increased. The superior benefits of Azdel composite panels create stronger and more durable sidewalls.”

Sean Campbell, director of global marketing for Hanwha Azdel, “If you look at key industry trends in the RV industry, they’re really fueling rapid growth of Azdel composites. There is significant interest in reducing mass on all classes of RVs. Lighter RVs enable owners to use less fuel and can be pulled or powered by engines with lower towing capacities. Since our materials are half the weight of plywood, they have a strong value proposition. They also are far more impact and puncture resistant than plywood, offer better sound deadening, and are formaldehyde free. Another advantage is these materials won’t absorb and hold water, so they won’t rot or corrode or support growth of mold or mildew.”

The RV industry is the fastest growing market segment for Hanwha Azdel and also is where the material can offer the strongest value proposition. The capacity expansion will support RV customers by providing a more consistent regional supply of lightweight thermoplastic composite materials, whose global demand is projected to rise at more than 10% annually through the year 2020.

Adds Hosinski, “Plywood has long been used in the RV Industry, but lead times are long because it has to travel from Malaysia and Indonesia to North American RV manufacturers. In contrast, Azdel composite is produced in the U.S. with a much shorter supply chain and much shorter lead times. Further, since these materials create stronger sidewalls, RV customers can preserve their investment by extending vehicle life. Last, product testing in 2009 to ASTM E 1333-96 standards by Progressive Engineering Inc., an ISO 17025 accredited testing laboratory, verified that the material contains no detectable levels of formaldehyde.”

For more information visit http://www.hanwhaazdel.com/.