Archive for November, 2011

2010 Report on Natural Fiber

Monday, November 14th, 2011

 According to recently published report, in 2010, total global natural fiber composite materials market shipments topped 430.7 mln lbs with a value of US$289.3 mln. The market is expected to grow to US$531.3 mln in 2016 with an 11% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years.

Natural fiber composites (NFCs) are used in a variety of markets such as automotive, construction, and more.  Europe was the top continent in terms of total NFC consumption; Asia is emerging as a big market for NFCs due to the rapidly increasing demand in China and India.

Several automobile models, first in Europe and then in North America, featured natural fiber reinforced thermosets and thermoplastics in door panels, package trays, seat backs and trunk liners.

The application of natural fiber composites has increased and is gaining preference over glass fiber and carbon fiber due to low-cost and low-weight European-based natural fiber composites molders and supplier of interior parts such as headliners, side and back walls, seat backs, and rear deck trays to GM, Audi, and Volvo, among others. In terms of value shipment, Europe is expected to continue its dominance. North America is expected to be the second-largest region in terms of value shipment by 2016.

For more information on natural fiber composites, please visit for further information.


Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

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.

How can I certify my product low VOC in a cost effective way?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at FlexForm is whether our product is GreenGuard certified.  GreenGuard is clearly the industry standard for certifying low VOC’s, however we have found that it is prohibitively expensive.  I found a link that I felt was interesting in attempting to map out a standard way to certify without using GreenGuard.

You can click through here to be taken to a PDF written by Berkeley Analytical.  They detail in a very step by step fashion the best ways to go about independent certification.

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.


Tuesday, November 1st, 2011


The traditional flax industry of Europe has not actively promoted the development of objective standards and continues to rely on subjective ways of characterization.  Various classification schemes exist with an industry segment and include criteria such as the source (e.g. Belgium, France, Russia or China), the processing history (e.g. water or dew retted) or the application (e.g. warp or weft yard).  Within particular countries (e.g. Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, or Russia), measurement of flax fibers is done by more less consistent means, and therefore a limited classification system exists.

A suitable example for instrument testing of flax is given with the measurement of fineness.  Fineness is usually considered as the most important quality characteristic of flax.  The fineness of flax can be measured by different methods, the most common one, and the only internationally standardized one ISO 2370 Standard Test Method.  ISO 2370 includes two different methods, a reference method considering different densities, and a simplified method neglecting possible variations in fiber density. 

For more information on natural fiber composites, contact

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!

Malama Composites

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

David Saltman was one of the founders of FlexForm in the late 1990′.  He has a new company called Malama Composites.  These guys are making biobased polyeurathane foam.  I have seen the samples, and it is great looking stuff.  We are really excited about the future and the possibility that our FlexForm FR board could possibly be used in conjunction with the Malama foam. They are calling the foam AinaCore.

Here is some more info on Malama from their website:

Our Promise

Malama means “to care for and protect” in Hawaiian. Our logo, the Koru, is an unfolding fern leaf, Polynesian symbol of the regenerative power of nature.

We develop and manufacture rigid polyurethane foams made from natural, plant-based resources. Our products utilize polyols derived from soy, castor and other locally grown plants. The manufacturing process generates no water pollution or toxic air emissions. In fact, every pound of AinaCore® sequesters 2.6 pounds of carbon.

AinaCore®, structural foam enables the creation of strong, light weight, cost competitive,and non-toxic products.

Ainacore®, a high-performance, core material allows for:

  • faster yachts
  • lighter furniture
  • more durable wind turbine blades
  • more energy efficient homes
  • more soulful surfboards.

Ainacore® performs at specifications competitive with traditional foams, plus gives you a sustainable, environmentally elegant solutions.



What is Jute?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011


The stem bast called jute has only two species that are cultivated for commercial purposes; “white jute” and “tossa jute”.  Various qualities are used in trade that differs particularly in the properties of color, fineness, strength, density, root proportion and tendering.  Both types are sorted into a total of eight categories in India, “tossa jute” (TD1 to TD8) and “white jute” (W1 to W8).  The classification of fiber still takes place using sensory methods and are subjective.  For this reason, an international comparison is difficult. 

In Bangladesh, for instance, “white jute” and “tossa Jute” are divided into six (6) “export” classes (Special, A, B, C, D, and E).  “Bangla white special” and “Bangla tossa special” are the highest grades of Bangladesh jute.  They are of the finest texture, very strong and with high luster.  They are free of defects, well hackled and clean cut.  The lower grades of jute are weather and coarser and with bark and specks.

In India there is only one grading system.  The grading and classification of jute are still carried out subjectively by hand and eye.  The Bangladesh Standards and testing Institute (BSTI) Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) New Delhi, India are government authorities for developing standards.

Jute is mainly cultivated in India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia and a few other South-East Asian countries.

For more information on jute, or natural fiber composites, contact