Ambitious in automotive and construction industries: lightweight composite from Compoform increasingly popular
‘In terms of durability as well as ergonomics and finances, this material is a godsend’
Max Hamm, CEO of Compoform
LIOF is helping this entrepreneur with:
LIOF introduced Compoform to the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), which consists of more than six hundred organizations from seventy countries. There Compoform was able to show what they produce, why they do it and where their expansion drive comes from. It is not only the European network that Compoform is helped with. LIOF also offers the company access to the regional network, which brings new leads. Max Hamm: "LIOF acts as an intermediary and indeed, that has ensured that we are currently having intensive discussions with potential new customers."
A project of:
Compoform is a manufacturer of extremely lightweight and fully recyclable sandwich materials. The Limburg subsidiary of Giant Leap Composites, with branches in Beek and Ospel, wants to boost sustainability within these industries and is well on its way. In terms of sustainability as well as ergonomics and finances, this material is a godsend.
LIOF and Compoform
Truck floors, aircraft containers, scaffolding boards, facade cladding or dormers; we never really think about it, but increasingly composite is forming the basis for these. And that is a good thing, says Max Hamm of Compoform, the manufacturer of this extremely light and fully recyclable sandwich material. ''In terms of sustainability as well as ergonomics and finances, this material is a godsend."
With a brand-new production line that accounts for 1.5 million square meters of thermoplastic composite sheet material per year, Compoform is showing its ambition within the automotive and construction industries. The Limburg subsidiary of Giant Leap Composites, with branches in Beek and Ospel, wants to boost sustainability within these industries and is well on its way.
,,What we mainly do within these branches is to replace traditional plywood wood, aluminum and competitive composite sheet material with a lighter, stronger and ultimately cheaper sandwich sheet material," Hamm begins his story about Compoform. ''People often think of plastic as environmentally damaging, but that is not the case. In fact, thermoplastic plastic is one of the most sustainable materials, as long as you keep it in a closed loop."
"What we are doing is replacing traditional plywood wood, aluminum and competitive composite sheet material with a lighter, stronger and cheaper sandwich sheet material."
The many good properties of composite
,,Thermoplastic composite, unlike wood, is excellent at melting at the end of its service life, allowing new products to be developed. In addition, in many cases it has a higher impact resistance than wood. Take a wooden scaffolding board. That will naturally rot after a few years in the open air and will have to be replaced to ensure a safe working situation."
,,Our thermoplastic sheet material lasts seven to ten years, is easy to maintain and can therefore be recycled after use. Compared to wood and aluminum, our sheet material is also many times lighter in terms of weight."
That weight is a feature that is of great benefit to customers in the relevant industries. Think of construction workers, who can now lift three times as many sheets and can also work with them much more easily. Or transportation companies. Because the walls and/or floors of their trucks are made of composite, their loading capacity goes up significantly. Moreover, they save on fuel costs. Still nice, especially considering current prices.
When it comes to the contents of the wallet, Hamm likes to dismiss the idea that his plastic is more expensive than traditional materials. According to him, the initial costs are somewhat higher, but due to the low-maintenance and ergonomic nature of thermoplastic composite, a lot of costs can be saved.
Wood scarcity favors Compoform
Partly due to decades of experience in composites, Compoform is miles ahead of the competition, according to Hamm. ,,In addition, the investment threshold to set up a production line like ours is very high for competitors. We are talking about 4 to 6 million euros. The fact that we are particularly well ahead within bodywork and scaffolding construction means that the Dutch market becomes saturated fairly quickly with this output."
Due to the war in Ukraine, wood has become a scarce product. This causes customers to look for alternatives, which they are increasingly finding at Compoform. During corona, however, the company did experience the disadvantages of a crisis. The material that the Limburgers produce is something that customers have to feel before they believe it. As a result of the corona measures, that couldn't happen.
,,During Covid, all sales shifted to online which made us notice that it was harder to get the message across to the customer. Some wanted to literally hit it with a hammer to experience the benefits of our composite. And that wasn't possible. So we were happy when we were able to go back to the trade shows and cross the border. Physical contact with customers still remains the most fun and valuable thing there is."
"Soon the first materials will cross the pond towards America. Great of course, because everything is big there"
Compoform and foreign markets
That business has since returned to as planned is evidenced by the fact that the company is also flourishing abroad. ,,In Germany, the United Kingdom and soon the first materials will cross the pond to America. Great, of course, because everything is big there. For that reason we are also holding concrete discussions there to set up a production line. Something that is possible with the knowledge and expertise we have built up in recent years. The intention is to get that new line up and running within a year and a half."
Valuable network of regional development company
To take those steps abroad, Compoform fell back on an old acquaintance: LIOF. This regional development company supports innovative entrepreneurs from Limburg with advice, financing and networking. To gain a foothold in the aforementioned countries, Hamm appealed to that network.
,,With the solid growth we are experiencing, we missed the international contacts that LIOF turned out to have. Because we had already been in contact for some time in 2015 for a possible financing, the step for help in this area was quickly taken. And with success. Through LIOF, we were asked if we wanted to participate in the Enterprise Europe Network, which consists of more than six hundred organizations from seventy countries. We were able to show what we produce, why we do it and where our expansion drive comes from."
It is not only the European network that Compoform is helped with. LIOF also offers the company access to the regional network and that brings new leads. ,,LIOF acts as an intermediary and indeed, that has ensured that we are currently having intensive discussions with potential new clients. Entrepreneurs looking for an extensive network would therefore do well to get in touch with LIOF."