All signees know Corflute ® - which is actually a trade mark of Corex Plastics Australia. The generic term might be 'fluted board' or 'corrugated plastic sheet' and it is known as Coroplast in the USA, plus dozens of other names elsewhere. It's extruded from Polypropylene, is lightweight but strong, waterproof and IS recyclable. But did you know it has hundreds of other uses besides flat signage? Andy McCourt found one surprise example on a trip to Anaconda - a boat.
|Paddler's-eye view of the ORU Kayak clearly shows the 'flutes' and 'scores' of the hull
The last time we wrote about 'Corflute' was at the time of the election when South Australian Senator Rex Patrick called for it to be banned as a candidate advertising medium. Putting that aside, I was astonished to find something in the great outdoors shop Ananconda recently. It was a foldable-Kayak that packs down to a suitcase-sized lightweight and backpackable package. Closer inspection had me thinking 'that looks like Corflute!'
The foldable 'Origami' Kayak is the brainchild of a USA team at Oru Kayak. The material is actually 10mm Coroplast (they call it OroPlast) - ingeniously scored and die-cut to be assembled or re-packed in around five minutes. There are six versions for various conditions - calm lakes and inlets to beachside surf; open and closed-tops with spray-skirts.
All made from 'Corflute' type Polypropylene (PP) material and, I'm guessing here, scored on a large CNC router, maybe with a little heat. It's not a toy, it's a real, tough Kayak for repeated use - the folds have been tested for 20,000 reps without weakening. The PP is UV treated.
Corflute-not just for signs
No prizes for seeing what I am getting at here - using basic signage technology of a flatbed printer plus large flatbed CNC router, plus a common material and some design ingenuity: is there any limit to what can be made with 'Corflute?' With flat sign margins a bit thin, what about branching out into other areas, using equipment and material you might already have?
|2mm/4mm Coroplast model plane!
It might not be Kayaks, but how about strong, re-usable produce packaging? Already I see many 'Toblerone' triangular tree-trunk protectors made from PP fluted board, nicely printed close to roadworks. They can also be used for decorating bollards, crowd and vehicle control posts and can carry advertising messages. Model RC aircraft enthusiasts have discovered 'Corflute to make wings and fuselages. There's even an 8ft wigspan Piper Cub model made using 2mm and 4 mm Coroplast, powered by a lawn edger motor!
However, packaging probably represents the best lateral opportunity for Sign businesses with access to a flatbed printer and a CNC router. Indeed, the inventors (1973) of twin-wall 'alveolar' PP sheets - Covema spa of Milan, Italy owned by brothers Marco and Dino Terragni, originally called it 'Cartonplast' which is still made under their later company Agripak. Cartonplast manufacture was licensed by Coroplast in the USA and Canada from 1974 and by Corex, as Coreflute, in Australia from 1985.
Paper-based corrugated board is certainly an option too, but water and wear are the enemy if repeated use is envisaged. 'Corflute' type PP packaging products are exceptionally tough and weather-resistand and, an added bonus, Australian manufacturer Corex will take back and recycle spent Corflutes (whether or not they are printed with politicians' faces!)
The uses and value-added applications of 'Corflute' are limited only by the imagination of Sign companies with Zunds, Aristos, Kongsbergs, iEcho, Impact! or other CNC router devices. It's a marvelous material - made to very high standards right here in Australia!
|Corex printed re-usable packaging exhibited recently at Qld's Hort Connections show