Archive for the ‘Natural Fiber Material’ Category

Good, Comprehensive Natural Fiber Website

Friday, April 13th, 2012

I ran across this website that might be interesting to other fiber-geeks.  Natural Fibres is the name of the site and you can see from the first page that they are interested in informing about all aspects of natural fiber.

“We are now seeing a growing movement away from petrochemical based fibres back to natural fibres. There are three reasons for this. Petrochemical based fibre production has undergone continuing rising costs. Synthetic fibres rely on precious non-renewable resources and incurs environmental costs in their production. Petrochemical based products pose a health risk in most applications, both from direct exposure and also from secondary exposure through soil, water and air pollution.

Natural fibres are either extracted from plants from the leaf, the inner bark or fruit/seed crop, or from animal wool/hair, or insect cocoon or from mineral product. Plant sources of fibre include cotton, hemp, kenaf, ramie, sisal, flax, linen, lime, jute, seagrass, and abaca. Animal sources of fibre include sheep, alpaca, llama, goat, and camel, and can be either wool, hair or leather. Insect fibre is predominantly from silkworm cocoons.”

There are several tabs on the right hand side that will bring you to all sorts of information.  Enjoy!!


Henry Ford Made a Hemp Car

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

I found an interesting tidbit in the history of natural fiber with industrial applications.  There is a long history of use of natural fiber to reinforce automobile parts.  Here is some archival footage of Henry Ford’s Hemp Car.

Click on the link above and it will take you to an interesting youtube video.  Apparently Henry Ford made a car where the exterior was some sort of fiber-reinforced composite using industrial hemp.  The video shows Henry Ford hitting the trunk of the car with an axe, and it doesn’t leave a dent.  An article appeared in Popular Mechanics Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 6, December,1941, titled: “Auto Body Made of Plastics Resists Denting Under Hard Blows”.  The article goes on to describe the car exterior, including windshield and windows, as being made from a mixture “composed of farm crops and synthetic chemicals, the plastic is reported to withstand a blow 10 as great as steel without denting…”  The article also quotes Ford as saying he would “grow automobiles from the soil.”

It makes you wonder, whatever happened to Ford’s Hemp Car?  A quick google search turned up a lot of ignorant ravings about “smoking your car”, but little in the way of the real story.  If anyone out there knows, please share with us in the comments section.


Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is Promoting Bio-Based Manufacturing

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

On February 21, 2112, an article on Mlive, Michigan’s main news webpage, reported “Sen. Debbie Stabenow promotes bio-based manfacturing initiatives at Kettering University”.

The article informs us, “FLINT, Michigan — Grow it here, build it here, keep the jobs here.  That’s the idea behind U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s plans to beef up the nation’s bio-based manufacturing sector…The initiative creates a new tax credit — up to 30 percent — for companies that manufacture bio-based products in America or buy equipment to begin to manufacture those products.  Her Senate bill was first introduced in October.”

What is Jute?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

My Colleague, Carol Young posted an excellent informative piece the other day.  I’ve linked to it here.

Jute is a naturally occurring, inexpensive fiber that is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Because of its natural golden shine, jute is also known as “the golden fiber.” The types of jute used to make goods are purchased in several grades as well as blends of jute and other fibers.

White Raw Jute
o White raw jute originated centuries ago in the poorer regions of India and was first used to make clothing for villagers and farmers. When trying to locate white raw jute for personal or industrial use, it is also known as “Bangla white.” Since them, white raw jute has grown in personal and industrial use. White raw jute is traditionally used to make products such as yarn, twine and rope. The grades of this type of jute are Bangla white A, B, C, D and R.

Tossa Raw Jute
o Tossa raw jute and white raw jute are the most commonly found types of jute and are grown where climate permits in India. Tossa raw jute is silkier and much stronger than white raw jute; because of its extra strength, it is also used to make bags such as gunny sacks and clothing. Tossa raw jute is also available in grades A though E.

Mesta Raw Jute
o Mesta is a blend of the Mesta plant and raw white jute, and is graded differently than raw white jute and tossa raw jute; the grades are Mesta top, Mesta mid and Mesta bottom. Mesta because a part of jute production in 1947, when India had to partition its land. Since that time, Mesta has become a more important part of this blend because Mesta is capable of growing in areas where the climate is not appropriate for raw white or tossa jute.

Jute Cuttings
o Cuttings are considered the lowest grade of jute. Like other harvested products, cuttings are often the left over jute of other grades and can be a mixture of leftovers. Jute cuttings are most often used to make paper products; less often, jute cuttings are used to make bags, ropes or other goods, as these products are not as strong. Both white raw jute and tossa raw jute cuttings are available in grades A and B.


Reduce Automotive Emissions

Monday, December 5th, 2011

In the U.S. where a “green” environment is becoming more and more popular, it was surprising to see that our carbon dioxide emissions are actually going up!  Meanwhile automotive OEM’s continue to work on ways to reduce the weight of vehicles, reducing fuel consumptions, and subsequently reducing the amount of  carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions released into the environment.

FlexForm Technologies offers a solution, a natural fiber substrate for automotive applications (door panels, seat backs, trunk trim, headliners, etc.).  This natural fiber substrate (a blend of natural fiber and polymer fiber) offers a weight reduction compared to commonly used wood.  A switch to natural fibers substrate offers the OEM’s an easy opportunity for a vehicle weight reduction and less automotive emissions. 

Please see our website, for further information.


For more information on the rise of fossil fuel emissions, please reference the following article:

December 5, 2011, 5:42 am (

Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels and the cement industry scaled a record high in 2010, rocketing by 5.9 per cent over 2009 in a surge led by developing countries, scientists have reported.  For the first time ever, annual CO2 from these sources topped nine billion tonnes, reaching an estimated 9.1 gigatonnes, they said in a letter to the journal Nature Climate Change.
The year-on-year rise was the highest ever recorded and more than wiped out a 1.4 per cent fall in 2009 which occurred as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis.
“After only one year, the global financial crisis has had little impact on the strong growth trend of global CO2 emissions that characterized most of the 2000s,” said the letter, led by Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway. The rebound may be explained by a swift easing in energy prices and injections of government funds to help recovery, the authors suggested.
CO2 emissions from rich countries fell by 1.3 per cent in 2008 and 7.6 per cent in 2009, but increased by 3.4 per cent in 2010. The United States, historically the world’s biggest emitter and currently ranked second after China, saw an increase in 2010 of 4.1 per cent. Even so, emissions from developed countries in 2010 remained lower than their average emissions when measured over 2000-2007.  In contrast, emissions from developing countries increased by 4.4 per cent in 2008, 3.9 per cent in 2009 and 7.6 per cent in 2010.  This growth was concentrated especially in China, which saw a year-on-year increase of 10.4 per cent, and in India, where there was a rise of 9.4 per cent.

The letter, authored by six prominent scientists, was published at the midway point at the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
Nations are struggling for agreement on how to tame CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases which trap solar heat and thus create a man-made trigger for climate change.  One of the biggest bones of contention is whether emerging giant economies should be part of a global, legally-binding treaty.  The United States says a pact can only be envisaged if China and India, in particular, have constraints.
Right now, the developing countries have no specific curbs under the Kyoto Protocol or under the wider agreement in the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The letter published on Sunday concurs with data published last month by the US Department of Energy that focused on fossil-fuel consumption. According to an analysis on Thursday released by a British risk-analysis firm Maplecroft, five countries –China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan – account for more than half of all emissions of man-made greenhouse gases.  Brazil, Germany, Canada, Mexico and Iran lie just behind.

Why Jute?

Friday, November 4th, 2011

At FlexForm, we use Jute fiber in our natural fiber composite material.  Jute is an annual crop, so that alone makes it “green”.  What else is special about this plant?  We get our fiber from a variety of suppliers.  One company, Bast Fibers, LLC., has some information on their website that I thought was interesting enough to pass on.  You can find the original post here:

  • Jute plants absorb 6 metric tons/acre of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and release 4.5 metric tons/acre of oxygen (O2) into the atmosphere during the 100 day growing cycle.
  • Almost no energy is used in growing and processing Jute and Kenaf fibers. The seed is sown by hand; then, the plants are cut, retted and stripped by hand.* 
  • No fertilizer is used as the roots and leaves are plowed back into the ground. They play a vital role in increasing the fertility of the soil.
  • Bast fiber plants are resistant to pests and diseases. Sometimes a garlic mixture is sprayed on the plants.
  • Natural fibers are 100% biodegradable and/or recyclable.
  • All Bast fibers are “tree-free” and “oil-free”.

*This is true of fiber from developing countries,  not true of domestic fiber.

Wonderphyll goes 3-D!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

We are really excited to report that we have positive results from a trial of 3-d molding of our fire-rated product, Wonderphyll.  More results and pics to follow!

Natural Fiber (Jute) in Bangladesh

Monday, September 19th, 2011

September 5, 2011 

Bangladesh’s ‘golden fiber’ comes back from the brink

By Anbarasan Ethirajan BBC News, Dhaka

 WATCH: Jute has been processed in the same way for generations

Jute, a vegetable fiber that can be spun into sackcloth, used to be the ‘golden fiber’ of Bangladesh.  It brought much-needed foreign income to the impoverished nation.  But it lost its luster in the 1980s after synthetic materials like polythene and plastics were introduced.  Now the natural fiber has made a spectacular comeback. 

Exports of jute and jute products from Bangladesh this fiscal year crossed a record billion dollars as demand for the natural fiber is steadily increasing.  With growing environmental awareness, jute, which is bio-degradable, has become the preferred alternative to polluting synthetic bags. 

Jute is considered to be the second most important natural fiber after cotton in terms of cultivation and usage. It is mainly grown in eastern India, Bangladesh, China and Burma.  Until recently the fiber was used mostly as a packaging material. With a diversification of jute products, the demand for jute has increased.

“By processing the fiber mechanically and by treating it chemically, now jute can be used to make bags, carpets, textiles and even as insulation material,” says Mohammad Asaduzzaman, a scientist at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute in Dhaka.

Thousands lost their jobs and farmers shifted from jute to more profitable rice cultivation.  Today, as demand increases, more farmers are returning to this traditional crop.  “For example, the Bangladeshi government has made it compulsory to use jute bags for packaging of food grains.”

New uses

Jute is also versatile, strong and long-lasting and scientists say they are discovering more uses for it in different sectors.  For example, Geotextiles, a diversified jute product, is used for soil-erosion control and also used in laying roads to give more durability. The natural fiber is also used to make pulp and paper. 

Bangladeshi scientists are now working on an ambitious project to blend jute fabric with cotton to produce denim fabric.  They say if the jute plant is harvested earlier than the usual period of 120 days, then it gives a softer fabric.

“If this special quality of fiber is chemically modified and bleached then it becomes softer. If we can blend it with cotton then we can manufacture denim fabric and diversified textile products,” says Mr. Asaduzzaman

If this process can be commercialized, he says, it will bring down the demand for cotton, which is also becoming dearer day by day.  The price of fabric can be reduced by a half, bringing benefits to the country’s garment sector.  It is estimated that nearly five million farmers are involved in jute plant cultivation in Bangladesh. It plays a key supportive role to the rural economy of Bangladesh.

One it has become soft, the jute fiber is separated by hand.  Then the fibers are stripped from the plant. The stripped fiber is dried and later sent to mills for processing. 

Golam Moazzam, a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, in Dhaka says: “It is important to note that policy support also contributed to its widespread use of jute both locally and internationally.

However, there are bottlenecks.  Special machines are required to blend this fiber with cotton and they are yet to be produced commercially. Scientists hope spinning factories will be able to install these machines in the near future.

“Unfortunately, there is not much research going on in terms promoting diversified jute products,” says Mr. Moazzam.

“Countries like Bangladesh and India, who are the major jute exporting countries, should conduct collaborative research to find out diversification of jute products.”

When synthetics like polythene bags came into widespread use, the demand for jute declined and many jute mills in countries like Bangladesh were shut down.



Renewable Materials at Oregon State University

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Oregon State University has a Bachelor’s of Science Program for Renewable Materials.

Professor Mike Milota contacted FlexForm this summer to ask if we had information on our manufacturing process that we could share for his class. He said he had a hard time finding manufacturers of non-wood based biomass materials.  We were happy to pass along a presentation of our info.  I hope the class is going well!!


From the OSU Blog:  “If you are interested in a hands-on career that employs science, business and technology to make a difference in helping society become more sustainable, then consider a Bachelors in Science program Renewable Materials.

This program is designed to give students the specialized knowledge and broad skills to help the world replace oil and non-renewable materials with plant-based renewable alternatives.  Wood, bamboo, straw and many other plant-based materials can be used to provide housing, consumer products, energy and other benefits for society.  Doing so efficiently and sustainably is at the core of this program.  Graduates find personally and financially rewarding careers with employers of all sizes and locations.”

Click here for more info.


New Blog!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Welcome to Natural Fiber Composite  (NFC) Material for the automotive/transportation industry.  Our material is made from sustainable resources; a combination of natural fibers such as kenaf, tossa, hemp, flax, jute, and sisal blended with thermoplastic polymers such as polypropylene and polyester.  Our current automotive applications include door panels, consoles, headliners, inserts, package trays, pillars, seat backs, trunk liners, etc.

Our product is highly attractive for automotive industry.  It is lighter weight that other materials(wood stock), more environmentally friendly (than glass fiber), acoustically better at sound dampening, recyclable, and grown naturally!  As you can see, a natural fiber composite material assists a vehicle to be more environmentally friendly.

My name is Carol Young and I am a sales professional a FlexForm.   I welcome you to share your comments, ideas and ask any questions you may have on this blog.  Please feel free to offer any additional information on this subject.  Be sure to also check out our company website at for additional information on our company, products and contact information.