Archive for the ‘Sustainable’ Category

Office Furniture Life Cycle

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

How can we better understand the benefits of increased sustainability in the office furniture industry?  I think part of the conversation has to include asking ourselves, What is the office furniture life cycle?  One business, Envirotech Office Systems has provided a well designed, and helpful graphic to show the various stages in the life cycle of your office furniture.  FlexForm Technologies Wonderphyll fire retardant substrate could be added to the office system at any stage in the process for increased overall sustainability over the existing fiberglass substrate.  You can see the original graphic on Envirotech’s website here.



In their post, Envirotech Office Systems explains 7 steps in the life of office furniture as follows,

“7 Steps of Recycled Office Furniture Lifecycle

When office furniture is no longer needed or wanted, there are companies, such as Envirotech Office Systems, that can help.  Call to discuss what options are available and what is right for your situation.

  1. Unwanted furniture is removed from the customer’s facility  
  2. Product is inspected for usability and market value
  3. Furniture that is to be sold ‘As-is’, receives minor cleaning 
  4. Refurbished furniture receives minor cleaning with additional cosmetic touches, and then sold
  5. Remanufactured furniture is disassembled; usable parts repaired or replaced, reassembled, refinished, and then sold as ‘better than new’.  
  6. Parts and materials that that could not be reused in the remanufacturing process because they have come to the end of their lifecycle, are either sent to be recycled or sent to the landfill.  
  7. Customers choose to purchase recycled office furniture.

FlexForm Technologies Wonderphyll fire retardant product would be a great addition to remanufacturing office furniture.  Our material would replace the existing fiberglass and make the remanufactured product create a better environment for the worker by improving air quality.

Canadian Hemp Guitars

Friday, August 29th, 2014

From this:


To this:




FlexForm Technologies is the link.  We take the fiber and make it into a mat. Canadian Hemp Guitars takes our mat and makes music!

Our material has found its way into the music industry. Canadian Hemp Guitars has been using our mat in the creation of instruments. They have an exciting line of Guitars and Ukeleles using alternative materials from the standard. You should all check out their great website.

If you want to know more about this company, here’s what they have to say as an introduction, “Canadian Hemp Guitars represent an innovative approach to guitar building that rewards the player and respects the planet. Designed with a nod to the classic American chambered-body guitars of the 60s, our complete line of hemp guitars deliver all of the sustain and resonance of a solid body guitar with the controllable blooming feedback of a hollow-body with minimal environmental impact.

We have all spent our lives playing guitars cut from the world’s great and majestic forests under the belief that these rare and endangered woods make the sound. In reality, the difference is in the build and the builder. Let us prove it to you.”

We at FlexForm Technologies are proud to be a small part of this amazing company.


Hemp Sunglasses

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

The blog Design Boom has reported that hemp sunglasses from designer Sam Whitten are available for pre-order.  The original story is found here.  Sam Whitten’s company is called Hemp Eyewear.  Images from here.


sunglasses made from hemp and flax fibre composite by sam whitten

Bonamici and Massie Hemp Amendments Pass the U.S. House.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Bonamici and Massie Hemp Amendments Pass the U.S. House!
Amendments to Justice Appropriations Bill Limit DEA From Interfering With States Ability to Regulate Hemp Farming

FlexForm Technologies recently received an update from Vote Hemp on the ongoing efforts to allow US farmers to cultivate and sell industrial hemp.  The following copy is taken directly from the letter.

“Last night was a good night for industrial hemp policy. Two of our strong supporters in Congress offered amendments to the bill that funds the DEA and Justice Department and both of them passed with a strong bi-partisan majority! The Bonamici amendment passed 237-170 and the Massie amendment passed 246-163. We want to thank the sponsors, cosponsors and all of the members who voted to support these amendments. We also want to thank all of you for calling and sending letters because you made the difference!
The Bonamici amendment states “None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to prevent a State from implementing its own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of industrial hemp, as defined in section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014.” This essentially tells the DEA and Department of Justice that they can’t spend any money from their budget to prevent states from implementing their state hemp laws.
The Massie amendment focuses on limiting the use of funds to block the implementation of Section 7606 of the Farm Bill. The Massie amendment states “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, entitled “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research” (Pub. L. No. 113-79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.” This keeps the DEA from spending any funds on efforts to interfere with states implementing hemp research authorized in the Farm Bill.
These amendments are necessary because the DEA has continued to act as though the law has not changed. They seized a shipment of seeds bound for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and blocked the importation of seeds for other projects in North Dakota, Colorado and elsewhere. They are also insisting that
Just because we won these votes in the House does not mean that we can let up. We still need the Senate to pass a similar funding bill and we are already working with them on this. We are also working to pass H.R. 525 and S. 359, the bills which would allow farmers to grow hemp commercially under state law.”

Natural Fiber Finds Its Way To Renewable Energy

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The renewable energy market may become a new one for natural fiber.  There has been a recent success story of using flax fiber in creating the turbine blades for wind-turbines.  Specifically a roof-top turbine was created using blades made from natural fiber.


(image source)
In February 2014 this story was announced via Composites Evolution‘s website.  From their site: “Biotex Flax has been used to manufacture natural fibre reinforced blades for a rooftop wind turbine at the University of Stuttgart.

The blades were conceived, designed and manufactured by the SWE (Endowed Chair of Wind Energy) at the University, the team having found that Biotex Flax reinforcement’s unique twistless technology gave them the performance characteristics that they were looking for.

SWE’s research is focused on improving the reliability of turbines whilst reducing the production costs of wind energy. It started design in 2011, with the aim of constructing new rotor blades for the university’s 1kW rooftop wind turbine. After a trip to “The Eden Project” in the UK, the team wanted to familiarise themselves with natural fibres and contacted Composites Evolution to test the performance of its Biotex materials.”


(image source)

Along with a range of other materials, the fibres were tested with different resins to validate their performance characteristics. SWE found that Composites Evolution’s Biotex Flax correlated best with the performance they expected and it felt they had a good data basis to make a lightweight and stiff natural fibre blade.

The blade, consisting of Biotex Flax 2×2 twill 400gsm as the main shell and Biotex Flax unidirectional 275gsm used for the blade’s belt and root, was built in two halves. Both were hand-laminated and then vacuum-bagged in two female moulds. The two separate halves were then joined using Momentive’s RIM 235 epoxy resin.

Once completed the blades were assembled onto the rooftop turbine for performance tests. SWE plans to use the blades in further tests focusing on their strength performance compared to blades constructed from other materials. A fourth blade was embedded with strain gauges and the team will be comparing the results to standard carbon and glass blades.”

Where are natural fiber composites used in automobiles?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Where are natural fiber composites used in automobiles?


image source

Starting with a bast fiber and polymer fiber binder, FlexForm technologies creates a natural fiber composite mat.  We supply this mat to a company that will mold the mat and assemble the additional components to make a finished piece for use in the finished automobile.  Natural fiber composites have a long history of being used as an alternative to fiberglass, injection molded plastic and other less sustainable technologies.  The parts vary greatly, and can make up content in a large variety of locations in vehicle.  The picture below shows this range.


image source

What is your State’s policy towards industrial hemp cultivation?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

According to the National Conference for State Legislators, eight states have positive legislation to support cultivation of industrial hemp.  From the webpage State Industrial Hemp Statutes, “Industrial hemp refers to many types of Cannabis plants that contain low levels of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and can be used to make a variety of products including textiles, plastics, fuel and food. However, the Federal Controlled Substances Act categorizes any product that contains THC, including industrial hemp, as a Schedule I drug.”

FlexForm Technologies produces a natural fiber composite using bast fiber and the natural fiber portion of the composite.  Because bast fiber is a fundamental part of our product, we are very interested in bast fiber supply.  We would be very pleased if we could sell a product to our customers that used North American fiber.  Currently, there are no sources for quality bast fiber in North America.  Industrial hemp is a bast fiber, and it is particularly suited to growing in varied climates around North America.  In Canada, growing industrial hemp is legal.  Canada is well at the forefront of this industry and poised to begin to supply clean bast fiber to the North American market within the next year.  The United States is lagging far behind due to its legistlation prohibiting the cultivation of industrial hemp.  Manufacturers in the US can import industrial hemp from other countries, but cannot use US fiber.  Until the federal government changes its policies towards industrial hemp, there will not be significant growth of US fiber producers and processors.

There are a growing number of states that have enacted pro-industrial hemp legislation.  These states are taking a proactive approach in recognizing the value of the crop to manufacturing and food supply.  If you want to keep up with what each state is doing, please refer to The National Conference for State Legislators and the page listed above detailing each state and their statutes. It gives a brief statement on what each state has included in their legislation.  It appears to be slightly out of date, as it does not include the recent California legislation, but it is a good source nonetheless for a nation wide look at this exciting trend.

The Sea Chair

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

What would you say if I told you that a group of artists has come up with a solution to the garbage in the ocean? That they have an idea to turn fishing boats into mobile furniture factories, trawling the sea for old plastic bags to use to make chairs?  Keiren Jones & Studio Swine are the forces behind this bold new concept of recycling and manufacturing.  Meet The Sea Chair:

The Sea Chair_6

The Sea Chair is made entirely from garbage found in the ocean.



This blog usually focus’s on items relating directly to natural fiber, its uses, and natural fiber composites.  Today I would like to show you a project that deals with sustainability and recycling.  I think it will be interesting to anyone who spends time working in the green economy.

As citizens of planet Earth, we need to be aware that there is a growing crisis happening in our oceans.  This phenomenon of garbage floating in the ocean goes by many names.  One of the better known moniker’s is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  The garbage isn’t limited to the Pacific Ocean, it can be found in all the Earth’s oceans.  These are large gyres of garbage, and they are growing.  The map below shows the magnitude of the problem.

Gyre Map

Map showing location of ocean garbage gyres

It isn’t just that the garbage finds its way into the gyres, these areas are just the centers of greatest concentration of pollution.  The garbage found in the gyres is degraded by time, wind and water and broken down into very small particle size.  These small, broken down pieces of garbage are usually plastic.  They wreak havoc on the marine environment in a number of ways.  They are eaten by krill and pollute our food chain, and they wash up and pollute beaches.

The Sea Chair is a project from artist Keiren Jones & Studio Swine.  As it says on their webpage, the idea came after a trip to the beach.  They said that the pollution wasn’t readily apparent, but after awhile they noticed that some of the “sand” was floating.  The team then realized that the plastic pollutants were ground so small that they were hiding in plane sight.  Looking down at the beach, what looked like sand was plastic.  Jones and the rest of the team wanted to do something to not only reduce the pollution, but make it economically viable to do so.

Collecting Nurdles

Harvesting nurdles of plastic from the beach

They came up with an idea to harvest the pollution from the marine environment and create furniture.  The plastic could be reclaimed from the beach or from out in open water.  The plastic would then be heated up and molded into the simple design known as The Sea Chair.  The best part of the design is that anyone can do it.  Anyone who wanted to start cleaning up plastic could make a living by manufacturing the chairs.

Plastic Sample 2_Blue

Top: large items of plastic pollution, Middle: plastics broken down in the ocean, Bottom: molded chair seat of reclaimed ocean plastic

Studio Swine has published a manual for the Open Source Sea Chair.  Anyone with a camp stove and a few other simple tools could make the chair, bringing a DIY ethic to the project.  In this way, The Sea Chair could be a job creater.  The concepts could revive the fishing industry in many coastal communities.  Fishing boat owners could convert their fishing ships to become garbage trawlers.  They could pull the garbage out of the water and mold the chairs on board.  The chairs could then be floated over the side of the boat as the boat returned to shore.

The Sea Chair Tools_1

These simple implements produce the molded parts, and then you just screw the legs on.

All in all, I think this is a fascinating project.  I wish the team good luck!!


What makes Wonderphyll a sustainable product?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Earth Day may have passed, but the need for increased sustainable content in office furnishings has not. Today I wanted to revisit why Wonderphyll is such an amazing substrate for office systems and architectural interior products.  Every year, thousands of panels from office systems find their way into our nations landfills.  This is mainly because the substrate or backer behind the fabric is fiberglass. Wonderphyll used as a backer for fabric in system panels or tiles would reduce or eliminate landfill of office products as it is recyclable.  Wonderphyll can be reclaimed, reground and used to produce a variety of industrial products.  Help reduce garbage!  Use Wonderphyll in your panel systems!!

Recycling your office furniture isn’t the only way to help reduce waste on our planet Earth. Please comment below on your favorite ways of being eco-friendly as you plan your office furniture choices or source components for your business!