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Reinventing Cork

Innovation is the driving force behind the Composite Cork Business Unit (BU) - recognised as Corticeira Amorim’s most technologically advanced area. On a daily basis, this BU proposes to redesign the world, in a sustainable manner, by reusing and reinventing natural and recyclable materials, with applications in a wide array of different areas.

The main raw material used by the BU is surplus cork from the rest of the cork industry, thereby constituting an exemplary model of the circular economy. The BU thereby develops a unique portfolio of high performance materials for multiple industries - such as aerospace, panels and composites, automobile, gaskets and seals, electricity industry, construction, sports surfaces, flooring, consumer goods, furniture and footwear.

 
"Incorporating state-of-the-art technology and unique expertise, the Composite Cork Business Unit develops cork composites for some of the world's most demanding industries."

The Composite Cork BU is a leading international body in terms of research, development and production of new cork composite solutions. Its principal customers include some of the world's most demanding industries in terms of quality and innovation.

Products developed by the BU include spacecraft shielding materials for NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). For ESA's IXV mission, it developed a cork composite that can shield the spacecraft's structure from the effects of the thermal environment - from the initial ground launch to Earth re-entry and descent phase. Such TPS (Thermal Protection Systems) solutions demonstrate cork’s high technical credentials. Thanks to cork’s lightness, thermal insulation capacity and extraordinary resistance, it constitutes a key element in the key mission of guaranteeing the physical integrity of spacecraft, enabling them to withstand extreme temperatures.

Focused on developing new cork solutions, the Composite Cork BU plays a pioneering role in the constant search for new challenges for cork composites.

Key examples include: the MATERIA - Cork by Amorim collection, for which the BU has dedicated its full expertise for the production of unique items and solutions designed by leading national and international designers, and the METAMORPHOSIS project, in which some of the world's most respected designers and architects have explored cork’s incredible properties to generate new concepts and expand the limits of this raw material to unprecedented levels.

The BU’s passion for experimentation has resulted in ground-breaking real world applications, such as the new Lisbon Cruise Terminal, designed by the Portuguese architect, João Luís Carrilho da Graça. The project is the first application of an innovative material that combines concrete with cork, resulting in a considerably lighter and visually striking structure, while benefiting from cork’s thermo-acoustic properties.


Cork’s elasticity is one of the key properties in infill solutions for artificial turf. As a 100% renewable material, cork granulate brings a part of nature back to these turf systems, highlighting cork’s countless positive properties - such as impact-absorption capacity, high durability and more efficient water consumption.

Cutting-edge projects developed by this BU, that highlight the unique performance of cork solutions, include Inspiro - Siemens' latest generation surface metro system - which is designed to be the most modern, efficient and sustainable in its class. Thanks to the innovative AluCORK cork flooring developed by the Composite Cork BU, the weight of the carriages is 30% lower than traditional carriages, thus reducing energy costs.

In the shipping industry, cork also plays a key role in ensuring safe, reliable and efficient transport, ensuring that oceans remain clean in the future. A new cork composite developed by this BU is currently used in innovative decks of river cruise ships, resulting in a significant weight reduction (seven tons per ship) together with excellent thermal insulation and passenger comfort.

Cork is constantly being transformed in the Composite Cork BU. As a 100% natural, sustainable and highly technological material, cork gains new forms and functionalities to meet the most demanding requirements. Cork is used to create new formulae and new solutions that, through combination with different materials, guarantee the best possible performance of the final products.

Because the cork industry is based on a sustainable cycle, that safeguards the balance of nature, the Composite Cork BU has been certified by the FSC - Forest Stewardship Council and the PEFC - Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes.
 

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PORTFOLIO

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Aerospace Industry

Integration of cork into aircraft and rockets began with NASA's path-breaking Apollo 11 mission, which put man on the moon for the first time. Withstanding the test of time, cork has been used in successive aerospace programmes, such as the ESA’s recent IXV mission. Cork’s chemical and physical structures make it an ideal raw material for ablative thermal protection systems, due to its excellent insulation properties, lightness and low thermal conductivity.

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Automobile Industry

Automobile engines are subject to extreme tests of resistance, heat and pressure. Gaskets and sealing solutions that combine cork with rubber for the automotive industry, applied in engines and damping systems, are the present and future of sustainable sealing.

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Construction Industry

Thanks to its efficiency, resilience and durability, cork is an excellent material for the creation of unique solutions for the construction sector. Development of specific cork composites has resulted in a diversified portfolio of materials for acoustic insulation and vibration control, as well as solutions for absorption of the expansion and contraction of different building materials.

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Consumer Goods

Functionality and design are two key ingredients in contemporary spaces. Due to cork’s aesthetic characteristics, soft and pleasant touch and high acoustic and thermal insulation performance, it is increasingly chosen to create contemporary objects and for application on walls, ceilings and floors.

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Flooring

Cork is used as a raw material and differentiating factor in the flooring industry, either for the production of components for each of the floor’s various layers, or for the production of accessories for these systems (subfloors). Manufactured with NRT (Noise Reduction Technology) the components developed by this BU ensure greater noise reduction and greater thermal comfort, which has helped reinvent the flooring industry.

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Shoe

From the most coveted fashion brands to the most reliable orthopaedic models, the footwear industry relies on cork to bring lightness, endurance and beauty to its creations.

Once integrated within a shoe, cork guarantees better distribution of body weight, and cushions body impact, controls temperature and allows the foot to breathe, thereby delivering greater walking comfort.

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Furniture

Aesthetics and performance are two attributes of cork used by the furniture industry. As highly versatile and sturdy material, cork combines unique sensory characteristics with functionality, making it especially attractive. Using new moulding and machining techniques, which make greater use of the full potential of cork, a wide range of solutions for the furniture industry have been developed.

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Electricity Industry

Cork composites increase the working life of power plants and distribution networks. For example, they are used in seals and gaskets for electrical equipment and noise and vibration control in transformers and reactors. Durable solutions that deliver peak performance.

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Gaskets and Seals

A good seal must offer high thermal, chemical and mechanical resistance. The same unique properties of cork that are used for the high-performance automobile industry also serve many other industries, in applications that are subject to extreme tests of resistance, heat and pressure.

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Sports Surfaces

Cork naturally absorbs body impact energy and provides comfort and safety for users, thus making it the ideal solution for sports surfaces. Used in gymnasiums, racing tracks, stadiums and turf, cork or cork composites provide sports surfaces with resistance and shock absorption, while reducing surface temperatures. As natural materials, cork or cork composites also don’t present any health hazards.