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Thinking outside the box

UPM’s award-winning UPM ProFi is a new type of composite material developed as a result of an extensive in-house R&D programme aimed at extending the reach of the forest products industry. With new recycling technology at its core, it represents a truly sustainable alternative that can make a positive contribution to the environment.

UPM ProFi wood-plastic composite is a unique material that combines the best characteristics of wood fibre and plastic. Manufactured primarily from recycled materials, it has proven both tough and highly resistant to humidity, characteristics that make it suitable for a wide range of applications, particularly outdoors.

The principle raw material used in producing UPM ProFi is manufacturing waste generated by labelstock production at UPM Raflatac in the form of self-adhesive label materials made of paper and plastic. Some additional polymer is added to the mix to enhance product properties. Practically no production waste is created during the manufacture of UPM ProFi itself, and any residues that do result are simply re-used.

As all the materials contained in UPM ProFi are non-toxic to the environment, any UPM ProFi product can be recycled as a fuel for generating energy or re-ground and converted into new UPM ProFi products.

The Finnish pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai will be clad in modern-day shingles made of UPM ProFi.

Decking has been a springboard

UPM started full-scale production of its woodplastic composite in spring 2007 in Lahti in Finland. A dedicated plant was commissioned in Bruchsal in Germany in 2008 to respond to the market potential in Central Europe.

UPM ProFi Deck is ideal for use in numerous outdoor applications

The first UPM ProFi product to be launched was UPM ProFi Deck. Durable and easy to maintain, UPM ProFi Deck is an ideal solution for outdoor use in garden decks, patios, terrace areas, marinas, and boardwalks – both in public and residential applications.

Two new UPM ProFi products were launched with iconic Finnish design company, Artek, in spring 2009: Floor by UPM ProFi, a unique tile for exhibitions, and the 10-UNIT SYSTEM furniture range, designed by Shigeru Ban. Both were showcased for the first time at the Milan Design Exhibition.

UPM ProFi in Shanghai and Milan

UPM ProFi will be an integral part of the Finnish pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 – literally – as the building will be clad in UPM ProFi shingles.

Known as the Giant’s Kettle and designed by Helsinki-based JKMM Architects, the building will occupy a 3,000 square-metre site and underline the importance of a minimal environmental footprint when it comes to material selection. UPM will supply a total of around 25,000 injection-moulded shingles for the 3,700 square-metre exterior of the building.

Another pavilion to feature UPM ProFi, albeit on a smaller scale, was showcased at the Milano Salone Internazionale del Mobile exhibition in April 2007. Designed by the world-famous Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, the exhibition pavilion for Finnish design company, Artek, was built almost entirely of UPM ProFi.

Artek and Shigeru Ban joined forces again in 2009 with the launch of the 10-UNIT SYSTEM based on L-shaped units that can be combined in numerous different ways to create chairs, tables, or benches.

Together with Floor by UPM ProFi – also introduced in 2009 and featuring a unique marbled surface, easy underfloor cabling opportunities, and an innovative X-clip system for quick and easy installation and disassembly – these two products were the first to be manufactured using injection moulding. All previous UPM ProFi products had been manufactured using extrusion moulding.

An unlikely looking raw material! Surplus paper and plastic like this generated during the production of self-adhesive labelstock makes up the main raw material for UPM ProFi.

Engineered for performance

UPM ProFi Deck was the first commercial product to be made of UPM ProFi and combines the best qualities of wood and plastic in a single innovative decking solution. Weatherproof and highly durable, UPM ProFi Deck is ideal for outdoor use in patios, playgrounds, gardens, docks, marinas, boardwalks, and numerous other applications.

The wide range of properties offered by UPM ProFi Deck – from easy-to-maintain splinter-free surfaces to high UV resistance – means that it can withstand the year-round challenges faced by decking.

  • Very easy to install and just as easy to work as wood
  • A hollow structure means that UPM ProFi Deck is lighter than many solid WPC materials, weighing only 2.7 kg a metre
  • No annual surface treatment is needed and only periodic cleaning is recommended
  • Decking has an exceedingly hard-wearing surface that is pleasant to the touch
  • Very good anti-slip properties, making it safe even when wet
  • Thanks to its non-wire-brushed surface, UPM ProFi Deck has low moisture absorption, which gives it a high natural resistance to stains, mould, and warping – all typical problems with conventional decking solutions
  • Unlike timber and other wood-based wood plastic composites, UPM ProFi is also virtually lignin-free, which helps prevent it ‘greying’ as a result of exposure to UV light
  • Available in a range of colours, allowing people to give free reign to their imagination in a way that is largely impossible with wood.
> Markku Koivisto
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)