Corflute – the wonderful material that finds new applications

All signatories know Corflute® – which is actually a registered trademark of Corex Plastics Australia. The generic term could be “flute board” or “corrugated plastic sheet” and it is known as Coroplast in the United States, along with dozens of other names elsewhere. It is extruded from polypropylene, light but strong, waterproof and recyclable. But did you know it has hundreds of other uses besides flat signage? Andy McCourt found a surprise example on a trip to Anaconda – a boat.

The bird’s eye view of the ORU kayak clearly shows the “flutes” and “partitions” of the hull

ORU Installation of 2 Oru kayaks on the shore of Lake UnionThe last time we wrote about “Corflute” was around election time, when South Australian Senator Rex Patrick called for it to be banned as an advertising medium for candidates. That aside, I was amazed to find something in the Ananconda Outdoor Shop recently. It was a collapsible kayak that folds up into a lightweight, suitcase-sized backpack. Closer inspection made me think “it looks like Corflute!”ORU BayST packed.png

The ‘Origami’ foldable kayak is the brainchild of an American team at Kayak Oru. The material is actually 10mm Coroplast (they call it OroPlast) – ingeniously scored and die-cut to assemble or repack in about five minutes. There are six versions for various conditions – from calm lakes and coves to beachside surf; open and closed top with spray skirts.

All made from ‘Corflute’ type polypropylene (PP) and I’m guessing here marked on a large CNC router, maybe with a bit of heat. It’s not a toy, it’s a real sturdy kayak for repeated use – ply tested for 20,000 repetitions without failing. The PP is UV treated.

Corflute – not just for signs

No prizes to see what I mean here – using the basic signage technology of a flatbed printer plus a large flatbed CNC router, plus common material and some design ingenuity: is there any there a limit to what can be done with ‘Corflute?’ With somewhat thin flat panel margins, how about branching out into other areas, using equipment and materials you might already have?

Coroplast model plane
Coroplast 2mm/4mm model!

It might not be kayaks, but what about strong, reusable product packaging? I already see many ‘Toblerone’ triangular tree trunk protectors made from PP fluted panels, nicely printed near roadworks. They can also be used to decorate bollards, crowd and vehicle control posts and can carry advertising messages. RC model aircraft enthusiasts have discovered ‘Corflute to make wings and fuselages. There’s even an 8ft wingspan Piper Cub model made from 2mm and 4mm Coroplast, powered by a trimmer motor!

However, packaging is probably the best side opportunity for sign companies with access to a flatbed printer and CNC router. Indeed, the inventors (1973) of the double-walled “cellular” PP sheets – Covema spa of Milan, Italy, owned by brothers Marco and Dino Terragni, originally called it “Cartonplast”, which is still manufactured under their company Agripak. Manufacture of Cartonplast was licensed by Coroplast in the United States and Canada from 1974 and by Corex, as Coreflute, in Australia from 1985.

Paper-based corrugated board is certainly an option as well, but water and wear and tear are the enemies if repeated use is contemplated. Corflute type PP packaging products are exceptionally strong and weather resistant and as an added bonus, Australian manufacturer Corex will take back and recycle used Corflutes (whether or not they are printed with politicians’ faces!)

The value-added uses and applications of “Corflute” are limited only by the imagination of signage companies with Zunds, Aristos, Kongsbergs, iEcho, Impact! or other CNC router peripherals. It’s a wonderful material – made to very high standards here in Australia!

Hortconnections Corex header corex 1 768x1024
Corex printed reusable packaging on display recently at Qld’s Hort Connections show

Earnest A. Martinez