The better wood


The better wood
| Petra Rehmet

Teaching materials specialist Wissner manufactures its products from Re-Wood® on KraussMaffei machines

Natural, sustainable and, above all, safe to use - that's what many parents want for their children's products. Wood is very popular. However, it is better to use wood waste that the industry produces anyway than to keep cutting down trees. Wissner GmbH turns it into Re-Wood and injects its math-oriented teaching aids and games on CX machines from KraussMaffei.

It was a bit like squaring the circle: when Wissner started developing its new material around ten years ago, it wanted it to be made from regional raw materials, be environmentally friendly to produce, contain no harmful substances and be durable.

It also had to be stable and saliva-proof - after all, the products are also intended for small children. The result is Re-Wood, consisting of 80 percent wood powder and a binding agent, either recycled plastic or a biopolymer.

From the beginnings of carpentry to plastics technology

Many schoolchildren are familiar with at least two products from the Bensheim-based company: the impressive one-meter ruler for the blackboard in the classroom and the accompanying transparent protractor.

The former was originally made of wood, as Wissner began its business activities in 1976 as a joinery. Plastics processing was added later, and the first CX machines from KraussMaffei started production in 2007.

Driving the development of sustainable teaching aids and games together (from left): Jörn Wissner, Simon Hagemann, Jess Wissner, Jürgen Wissner (all Wissner GmbH) and Peter Meisel, Regional Sales Manager KraussMaffei  

Peter Meisel, the responsible sales engineer, was able to convince senior boss Jürgen Wissner of the two-platen machine.

The cantilevered clamp, under which removal devices or temperature control units can be accommodated, was a particular plus point given the limited space available.

We now have a new hall that has more than doubled our space. At the moment, CXs with clamping forces of 500 to 1,300 kN are running in it. The increase in capacity also allows us to tap into new product areas.
Simon Hagemann
Sales Wissner

Given the company's history, combining wood and plastic was an almost logical step. In addition, it has become increasingly difficult over the years to procure high-quality wood from 100% sustainable sources.

As a family business, Wissner attaches great importance to ecologically responsible production and thinks in terms of generations, not quarters. 

Made from 100 percent recycled material - Re-Plastic®

This is why, in addition to Re-Wood, there is also Re-Plastic, which consists of 100 percent recycled post-consumer waste. The approximately 25 employees use both materials to produce items such as geometric shapes, slide rules and peg cubes.

The traditional focus is on teaching materials for schools and kindergartens, but the games sector is becoming increasingly important - although the sectors are only strictly separated in Germany. In other countries, people are often more aware that playing is also always learning. 

Learning through play: The CX machines in the clamping force range from 500 to 1,300 kN produce a wide variety of play and teaching materials made of Re-Wood and Re-Plastic. 

Around 80 percent of Wissner's turnover comes from exports. "From customers all over the world, right down to Antarctica", as Simon Hagemann remarks with a grin. This means that prices must also be attractive for less affluent regions.

The use of recycled materials is not usually rewarded extra here and Re-Wood and Re-Plastic must not cost more than comparable materials.

The Re-Wood granulate is therefore produced efficiently and cheaply directly in the Bensheim production facility using wood powder from the region.

Currently, mainly spruce is being processed, but pine is to be added soon because it has an antibacterial effect due to its higher resin content.  Recycled plastic is usually used as a binder, albeit purely for cost reasons.

More color variety thanks to ReWood: The well-known Halma men are now also available in the colors purple and natural. What's more, the game pieces are almost infinitely durable, dishwasher-safe and 100% recyclable. 

Technically, the biopolymer would work just as well, but the price per kilo would be around three times as high. A task for the sales department - and Simon Hagemann is certain: "We will definitely find customers for it for whom the ecological aspect is particularly important."

Unlike real wood, building blocks made of Re-Wood can also withstand cleaning in the dishwasher, they are very strong, almost infinitely durable and, once worn out, can be recycled again and again. They can be coated using drum coating, for example.

Sophisticated processing of wood powder mastered with standard plasticization

Developing a new material is one thing, processing it is another. Although it is also in granulate form, Re-Wood has completely different physical properties to pure plastics thanks to its 80 percent wood content.

I am still delighted that we are able to process Re-Wood to a consistently high quality with our standard plasticization. No adjustments to the screw geometry or non-return valve were necessary.
Peter Meisel
Regional Sales Manager

Wissner is very conscientious about the injection parameters and the like, but this much can be revealed: Re-Wood does not shrink - so you should be careful when reprinting.

Wissner is currently pushing more and more strongly into the toy market, with its own products always having a mathematical character, such as the "Hexagon Castle of Numbers" game, which is all about calculating quickly and safely.

The hexagonal game pieces made of Re-Wood were printed for this purpose - an additional production step from which renowned toy manufacturers also benefit as customers.

The "Hexagon Castle of Numbers" game is all about calculating quickly and accurately. The hexagonal pieces made of Re-Wood are printed for this purpose

The industry as a whole is currently endeavoring to relocate production processes from South East Asia back to Europe. Wissner is actively offering its expertise in this area.

For example, the well-known Halma men are produced in a 46-cavity mold made of recycled wood - in addition to the classic colors, also in purple and natural. 

With love to details: Thanks to its good properties, Re-Wood is increasingly conquering the national and international play world.

The resourceful team never runs out of ideas and in future you are sure to come across teaching aids and game pieces made of Re-Wood more and more often. KraussMaffei is ready for any form of expansion.


Regional Sales Manager KraussMaffei
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