Fantastic Plastic in the Outdoor Environment

It is not overstating the case to say that plastic, the material, revolutionised the twentieth century. The inherent ease with which the material can be shaped – the word “plastic” is actually derived from the Greek “to mold” – makes it unique and this has been a major factor in its use in a huge range of industries and applications. Furniture, and outdoor furniture particularly, has long been manufactured with plastic due to the inherent properties of the material- lightweight yet sturdy, weatherproof and inexpensive - and before examining how the plastic manufacturing has been revolutionised in the 21st century, it is perhaps worth first providing a brief overview of how the role and perception of plastic as a material has changed in the last century or so.

Plastic was invented as a solution to the problem of the increasing dearth of raw materials due to the development and growth of industrialisation. Expanding markets and increasing production led to a search for alternatives and this was only increased by the two world wars, when governments invested heavily in the research and development of inexpensive materials suitable for mass production and military equipment particularly. Unsurprisingly, the focus was on the durability and performance of the material and how to improve these properties.

By the time of the 1930s goods such as cameras, hairdryers and other small items were being mass produced in plastic and the overall perception of the new material was not of an inexpensive substitute but of a ground-breaking new material that was born out of cutting-edge technological advances. In the post-war period, further developments in technology meant that plastic was no longer seen as a substitute – in fact new products and designs were created because of the new possibilities offered by the material. Economic recovery in this period only served to further the demand for experimental design and innovation using plastic as a material. However, the mass production and consumption of cheap goods that followed, coupled with a growing environmental awareness and the oil crisis led to the perception of plastic changing for many: it was now seen as cheap, environmentally damaging and lacking sophistication and elegance and there was a sense of negativity attached to the material that a generation earlier had widely been viewed as “the future”.

Which brings us to the state of play today and plastic’s renaissance as a material for premium-quality outdoor furniture. Due to the development of recyclable, sustainable plastics and new combinations based on organic polymers, innovative design involving the use of plastic is now in great demand once more. Like many industries, outdoor furniture is cyclical and in recent times, products that make use of plastic have come back very much to the fore.

ScanCom is a leading global manufacturer of premium-quality outdoor furniture which prides itself on innovation in design and sustainable production and “Doing Business the Right Way”. These aims were the basis behind our decision to invest heavily in industry-leading, mold-injection technology in order to manufacture high-quality products made with recyclable materials. ScanCom’s unique material is formulated from a polymer resin combined with other additives and is called Duresin®, the name reflecting the durable, weather-resistant properties of the material that is used to create attractive and hard-wearing products, which are also environmentally responsible and very low-maintenance.

Once injected into the mould and formed, the formulation becomes very robust, creating long-lasting furniture with high levels of UV resistance. The materials are also very flexible and, thanks to innovative technology, a range of textures and finishes can be applied to the surface in order to create a wicker-like appearance, the perfect fusion of design and material. Duresin® can be developed into a range of colours providing a huge range of options for customers. Andreas Schrempp, plastics expert and manager of ScanCom’s plastic facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam feels that plastic outdoor furniture is no longer seen as a substitute for materials like wood, steel and aluminium, but a high-quality material in its own right. He says, “With the advances in technology and production processes, plastic can now be formed into almost any shape and obviously this allows much greater freedom in terms of design and structural considerations. Our plastic facility is the most advanced in South East Asia and during the relatively short time ScanCom has been manufacturing with plastic, we have seen demand for premium-quality, environmentally responsible products grow and grow.”

One of the highlights of ScanCom’s current range manufactured from plastic is the adjustable Classica position chair which is a comfortable, lightweight yet sturdy seating option suitable for all kinds of outdoor spaces. The combination of clever design and state-of-the-art production facilities result in a highly functional, low-maintenance and fuss-free seat that can be completely folded in order to save space, and is also extremely durable and resistant to all kinds of weather conditions. ScanCom has so much confidence in Duresin® that all products come with a 5 year guarantee.

For more information about ScanCom products, materials and Duresin® please visit us at