All over the world hard wood becomes a scarce commodity. The furniture manufacturers are vigorously searching for an ecofriendly alternative to wood. The National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) at Thiruvananthapuram, a constituent laboratory of CSIR has developed the technology to make wood substitute from natural fibre polymer composites. It has been a pioneer in the research of natural fibre - composites for more than two decades.
The natural fibre polymer composite christened as 'Polycoir' developed by NIIST has been found suitable substitute for wood. The composite material utilizes coir fibre all other natural fibres such as coir, jute and sisal.
According to Director, NIIST there is great potential for using many unutilized lingo-cellulose fibre for making composite material. The material can be manufactured as per our requirement. It possess several unique properties such as resistance to fibre, termites and water. Surface properties and physical and mechanical properties can be finetuned as per requirement.
The NIIST has signed an MoU with the Kerala Furniture Consoritium Pvt Ltd (KFCPL) to commercialise the technology.
Located at Perumbavoor, Ernakulam district, the consortium is one of the seven innovation clusters benchmarked by National Innovation Council under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda. It is a common facility centre to pursue seasoning, designing, standardisation, testing and finishing of rubber wood for manufacturing furniture.
KFCPL as an innovation cluster, of national importance is dedicated to develop patented alternate substitutes for the scarce forest hard wood as part of its stringent environment policy. The cluster is destined to boost innovation and competition even in MSME sector in the state by upgrading the qualities of the furniture and related industry business environment
Under the MoU the coir composite developed by NIIST will be adopted by the furniture consortium as a substitute to hard wood. Further technical development required for commercialisation of fibre composites will be undertaken by NIIST and KFCPL.
The composite will be metamorphed by KFCPL into unique design formats of furniture and accessories on market requirements. According to the Managing Director of KFCPL, the consortium has plans to bring out a range of knock down furniture series using this material during this financial year.