Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Canadian Hemp Guitars

Friday, August 29th, 2014

From this:

277_home_fibers

To this:

guitars

 

 

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.

 


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.

WE7-700-Roof-Turbine-Home-04

(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.”

rooftop-wind-turbine-barn-ohio-11

(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?

01-steps-to-manufacture-natural-fiber-composites

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.

04-mercedes-s-class-1

image source


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!!