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Cork: Different features for different applications
Novel applications for cork
All products by Amorim Cork Composites rely on a sustainability model that has been perfected throughout the company’s history. Based on the use of waste from the cork stopper industry and powered by a strong capacity for innovation, resilience and ingenuity, we discovered several novel applications for cork throughout our history. Part of these applications are used in the flooring industry, in which the company invested and acquired resources over the past years, with a view to explore novel applications in partnership with many of its most innovative customers in the field.
Cork, our raw material
The development of this raw material begins very early in the tree. Cork develops different elements from the denser and harder outer layer to the less dense and more elastic inner layer. The different features of cork allow us to obtain raw material of several types completely different from each other in their shape and attributes through grinding, stratification and granulometric separation processes.
Spectrum of attributes
Cork presents a wide range of benefits from the core of the bark to the outer layer. These layers are transformed into several different cork components to be part of a flooring solution with different attributes and benefits. Introducing cork in a flooring system allows to effectively reduce the total weight of the system, which will have a direct relation with the amount that can be transported in containers and/or trucks and, therefore, with the sustainability of the final product.
Thus, Amorim Cork Composites offers different types of solutions:
• low- to medium-density layers with resilience, elasticity and resistance as main features, which translate into impact noise reduction and a pleasant feeling to the touch. In definite terms, this solution is a balancing element and ensures that the acoustic blanket, already part of the system, will be correctly installed with no margin for error. Additionally, the resilience of the material will allow to absorb subfloor irregularities without telegraphic effect on the flooring layers positioned on top. This solution is mainly used as pre-attached underlayment, which will result in a highly effective acoustic insulation.
• high-density layers designed to dissipate energy without compromising the system's resistance to specific loads due to high resilience and recovery capacity. Cork reveals all its potential in its denser and harder form, providing greater resistance to wear and to possible deformities caused by impact or occasional weight exposure when used as a surface coating. This solution is commonly called ‘top layer’ and allows for direct and digital printing processes. All its key features, such as low residual indentation or the viability to be used as the top layer without compromising the flooring usage classification, can raise several issues when only agglomerated cork is known in its most common formulation. However, the secret behind this application relates to the choice of the proper type of granules (in density and size) for each of these layers, taking into account the requirements of each as part of a more complex system.
Cork provides comfort (thermal, acoustic and walking), it is a hypoallergenic solution, and has high durability and low maintenance costs. A floor that contains at least two cork components benefits from a high acoustic performance, both in terms of insulation for adjacent rooms and in terms of inside comfort in a living room or bedroom where footfall noise is significantly mitigated. The benefits of cork are also significant in terms of thermal comfort, since cork does not only work as an insulator: it traps thermal energy inside each room, prevents energy loss through the floor and is also a material that is very pleasing to the touch.
Reinventing and innovating
The flooring market is a highly competitive one that is oriented towards solutions and developments that contribute to low maintenance costs and that are cost effective and eco-friendly without forsaking the design. If, on the one hand, cork solutions provide a positive response to such demands, on the other hand, it is the companies’ ability to reinvent that fulfills these requirements. To reinvent in the context of this application can have different meanings: to have the ability to adjust basic properties to match the production process of various systems or to innovate with concepts or features of materials following market trends, for example: new core layer, dimensionally stable (where the choice of the proper proportion and type of cork has a highly positive impact).