Archive for the ‘Natural Fiber Material’ Category

Plastics Technology Reports: Biomaterials Replace Most Plastics In Concept Car

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

biofore

From a recent post in Plastics Technology by Lilli Manolis Sherman, we learn that students in Finland are learning how to create cars without using very much traditional plastics.  The original post can be seen here.

From PT, “A new concept car jointly developed by Finland’s forest and biomaterials supplier UPM and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, replaces the majority of parts traditionally made of plastics with high-quality, safe and durable biomaterials, dubbed UPS Formi and UPM Grada.

biofore interior

Designed and manufactured by students from Metropolia, the Biofore Concept Car utilizes UPM Formi biocomposites—cellulose-fiber-reinforced PP and HDPE—for parts such as: front mask, side skirts, dashboard, door panels and interior panels. Designed for injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming production, UPM Formi is described as a durable, high-quality, odorless, non-toxic and uniform-in-quality biocomposite, with up to 50% renewable raw material, that is ideal both for industrial and consumer applications.

Also used is UPM Grada thermoformable wood material in the passenger compartment floor, center console, display panel cover and door panels. The Grada technology revitalizes the forming of wood with heat and pressure, and is said to open up new opportunities for designs not achievable with traditional methods.

biofore door

The vehicle itself runs on UPM’s wood-based renewable diesel UPM BioVerno, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. It is suitable for all diesel engines, including the 1.2-liter low-emission diesel engine featured in the Biofore Concept Car. Thanks to UPM’s biomaterials, the car is approximately 330 lbs lighter than its equivalents, resulting in lower fuel consumption. UPM Raflatac’s self-adhesive label materials (U.S. offices in Dixon, Ill., Mill River, N.C) are used to mark spare parts as well as in the interior and exterior design of the car. All labels used in this car have been manufactured using the latest adhesive technology and solvent-free production processes.”


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.

 

Office-Furniture-Lifecycle-Infographic

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.


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.

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.”


Industrial Hemp Fiber Processing to Increase in North America

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Canadian farmers harvested a record breaking tonnage of industrial hemp last year.  Every day more states in the US are passing farm bills that legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.  This is exciting news for FlexForm Technologies, but we cannot use raw fiber straight from the field.  If we are going to take advantage of native fiber, we need processing facilities to be built and start processing the fiber into a usable form for our machinary.

farmer

Canadian farmer harvesting industrial hemp

(image source)

A recent post on the blog of Alberta Innovates: Technology Futures entitled “Hemp Processing Plants Planned For Alberta” has identified two possible hemp processing plants being planned for construction in the next few years.  The websites The Western Producer and Leaf Science both report the same information.  This is welcome news.  Alberta is a great spot for processing plants to be established, as it is already legal to grow the industrial hemp there.  Also, Alberta Innovates: Technology Futures provides scientific and development expertise to assist the processing companies to be successful.

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Dr. Jan Slaski and Dr. John Wolodko of Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures conduct research on hemp fibre products at an Edmonton lab. (Photo: AITF)

 (image source)

Apparently Cylab International and Stemia are both planning to build facilities costing an estimated $32 million dollars a piece.  From the post by Western Producer:

“Cylab International plans to move its operations from China to an undetermined location in southern Alberta.
 “It’s definitely going ahead,” said Cylab chief executive officer Brett Boag Jan. 17.
 “We are still determining the place. ” …”

” 
The other plant likely to build in Alberta is called Stemia, which has identified a site near Chin, as the location for a flax and hemp straw decortication plant…”

“Mike Duckett of Stemia said its proposed $32 million plant is probable but not yet confirmed, and he expects to know more in two to three months.
..”

mike_duckett_hemcore good aspect ratio

Mike Duckett of Stemia

(image source)

 


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.

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image source


Indiana Governor Pence Signs Bill Legalizing Industrial Hemp

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Our friends at Vote Hemp gave us the heads up that the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, signed into law legislation that legalizes the cultivation of Industrial Hemp in the state.  The Senate Bill 357 was signed on March 26, 2014.  You can read the text of the bill here.

The Digest of the bill states: “ Industrial hemp. Subject to federal approval, authorizes the state seed commissioner to license the cultivation and production of industrial hemp. Establishes requirements to obtain a license. Authorizes inspections by the state police and audits by the state seed commissioner. Provides that in addition to any other liability or penalty, the state seed commissioner may revoke or refuse to renew a license and may impose a civil penalty. Requires the state seed commissioner to apply for necessary permissions, waivers, or other forms of legal status by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency or other appropriate federal agency that are necessary to implement the law. Makes a conforming amendment to the definition of “marijuana”.”

This is a historic day, as the State of Indiana moves forward to meet the demands of 21st century manufacturing.  Natural Fiber Composites are a global industry and Indiana is paving the way for our company to remain competitive in this market.

 


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.


Recent Salon.com Article Discusses Growing Hemp in the United States

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Article review by Anna Boone

A recent article found on Salon, entitled “Can hemp save the economy”  details the issue of how hemp contributes to our economy and how that contribution could increase if industrial hemp cultivation was legal in the United States.  Sales of hemp products amount to $450 million, and all of the hemp used to make these sales is imported.  Availability of domestic hemp could drive down the cost of this raw material and make the market more competitive.

How can this industry be improved?  Well, start off with a domestic fiber source.  The article informs us of a new bill currently in our US House of Representatives.  From the article:  “The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, introduced in the House on February 6 by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), would… amend federal drug law to legalize growing cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. ”  This bill, if passed, along with a companion bill in the Senate would enable industrial hemp plants to be grown in the United States.  This link from Project Vote Smart details the Senate Bill.  Passage of these bills into law would be great news for FlexForm Technologies.  Development of a domestic natural fiber supply could cut costs for the raw material necessary to make our products.

Jute Fiber

As the article mentions, because of the criminalization of cultivation of Industrial Hemp, there is no infrastructure to process the plant available in our country.  Even if the plant was legalized, it would take some time to develop the facilities and knowledge base to refine the raw plant into usable components for manufacture.  However, you have to start somewhere!  It is great to see this issue getting some attention.

 

Our company is mentioned in the article “One new product is car-door liners. Manufacturers such as Flexform Technologies in Elkhart, Indiana, and Johnson Controls’ German plant take felt-like mats of non-woven hemp fibers, spray them with resin, and then press them into the appropriate shape. BMW and Ford use the light, strong material in their cars’ doors”  We always appreciate seeing our company and products promoted in the press, but here the author got a few things incorrect.  First thing is that FlexForm uses a variety of bast fibers for our mats, not limited to hemp fiber.  Secondly, and more importantly, we do not use any resins in the process to product mat for automotive interiors.  Resin is not necessary for these applications.  We create a non-woven mat with a blend of bast fiber and polymer fiber.  This mat is then heated and molded to shape.  Once cool, the shape and strength are such that the part can be installed into an automobile.

 

Car Door

 

All in all, a great article and nice to see some media coverage of this important issue.


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!