A Safe and Attractive Finish
Lingrove developed Ekoa® with the goal of replacing wood, carbon fiber, and other raw materials with a product that delivers an attractive, durable surface without additional finishing. Achieving high-quality finished surfaces is one of the major challenges of product design and manufacturing. Delivering resistant, environmentally safe finishes is an even bigger hurdle. Ekoa® is a natural fiber material that does not require paint or polymer cover coats, and the final product emits no harmful chemicals because the natural fibers and bio-resin used to make Ekoa® do not include harmful chemicals. Ekoa® mimics wood for its warm natural look and feel but includes an in-material finish that does not require any additional coating for durability.
Finishing surfaces introduces toxic chemicals and high labor costs into even the most natural and sustainable raw materials. Consumers are increasingly aware of the air quality implications of products they use. They are also increasingly aware of the lower performance and higher cost of safer alternatives, one example is the transition to low VOC coatings and solvents that simply do not match the performance of the products they replace. Eliminating the need for coatings and finishes yields better results for air quality, worker safety, and sustainability, and slashes the labor required to finish a product.
A Safe and Attractive Finish
Wood remains the standard raw material for many consumer products. Finishing wood for both appearance and durability, however, presents many challenges.
For example, achieving the finish a customer expects on furniture or other consumer products requires filling, sanding, and spraying as many as 10 coats of paint, stain, varnish, or lacquer to achieve a smooth durable finish. Many of these surface treatments are polymers derived from petroleum and many are highly toxic, requiring specialized equipment and skilled labor. In fact, the high cost, permitting, and safety precautions required for finishing can make production difficult or impossible in an urban location like ours in downtown San Francisco.
There are a few products on the market that are pre-finished. Laminate (aka Formica) is one example of a widely-adopted surface finishing layer that is highly durable and does not require a finish. The downside with laminates is that the raw materials are petroleum-based, manufacturing is energy-intensive, and the end product feels like plastic because it is plastic. In contrast, Ekoa® is a laminate of natural materials that outperforms plastic laminates in safety and sustainability while achieving the aesthetics and feel of wood. Ekoa® has the wear characteristics of conventional laminates, but because our product is made of natural fibers and plant-based resins, Ekoa® is unmatched in sustainability, worker safety, and environmental life-cycle performance.
Ekoa® is available as a self-adhesive surface that can be used to cover walls, doors, furniture, or floors to achieve a wood-like natural grain surface without any of the surface coatings that wood requires in most applications. We’ve used Ekoa® in homes, commercial buildings, furniture, and vehicles to help create healthier, more comfortable, durable, beautiful, and sustainable surfaces.
We designed Ekoa® to help solve the problems of costly, labor-intensive, and toxic finish coatings. Contact us to learn more about how you can use Ekoa® to replace wood, laminates, plastics, and metal in your products.