The year was 1891 and the United States was already importing large quantities of cork for the manufacture of numerous materials: corks, buoys, life jackets, among other materials. It was exactly in New York at John T.smith's buoy and life jacket factory that the discovery took place. At that time, the filling of life jackets was done using a metal cylinder that allowed the life jacket to be kept open while workers filled the same cylinder with granulated cork. One of the cylinders clogged and was set aside but inadvertently rolled into a brazier and went unnoticed until the next morning. The next day, while cleaning the ashes from the brazier, they noticed that the cork inside the cylinder had not been burnt and that the heat had been enough to bind the whole mass into a single chocolate-brown shape.
The agglomeration of the granules is achieved through the resins of the cork itself, more specifically the suberin, which works as a natural binder.
The Expanded cork agglomerate is thus produced through a process of agglutination of virgin cork granules, mostly falca (the name given to cork from the pruning of cork oak branches) and is achieved through an industrial process without additives. After the granulation and cleaning processes, the agglomeration of the cork is done using overheated water steam, at a temperature between 300ºC - 370ºC using a steam boiler, in which +90% of energy consumption is biomass (from waste of its own industrial process).
Thus, we obtain blocks that can have various densities and that are then cut to be used mainly as thermal and/or acoustic insulation. In recent years, this 100% ecological and recyclable raw material has attracted increasing interest from designers and architects around the world.
SOBRI use it in furniture and homeware items and we intend to keep exploring other creative ways as made-to-order pieces.