Archive for October, 2014

FlexForm Technologies Celebrates 15th Anniversary as a Leading Provider of Natural Fiber Composites

Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Temalfa

Incoming fiber, the beginning of the natural fiber composite. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography

ELKHART, Ind., October 21, 2014 – FlexForm Technologies, a manufacturer of non-woven natural fiber composite substrate materials, is celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary. Started in 1999 and headquartered at a 95,000 square-foot plant in Elkhart, FlexForm manufactures products that are strong, lightweight, moldable, and completely recyclable for various industries.

 

Steadily expanding its presence and capabilities since the company’s inception, FlexForm is a composite material provider with extensive expertise in natural fiber composite formulation, design and development. The company serves the needs of many global industries – including the automotive, office interior, aircraft, recreational vehicle, truck, commercial vehicle, modular housing and packaging industries.

Accumulator 2

Fire Retardant Line Accumulator. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography.

“As we mark our 15th anniversary, we take a moment to thank our customers, employees and suppliers for their steadfast dedication and support, which has made this all possible,” said Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO, FlexForm Technologies. “We look forward to furthering our mission of utilizing sustainable resources to consume less energy, generate less waste and deliver products which meet our customer’s performance specifications.  We pride ourselves in helping our customers get the results they are striving for, not just supplying the materials.”

Gregg Headh shot

Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO FlexForm Technologies. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography

FlexForm, which holds ISO/TS16949 2009 registration signifying its excellence in quality manufacturing, offers composite substrates that are a blend of natural fibers and fiberized thermoplastic polymers and are 100 percent recyclable. This helps reduce or, in some cases, eliminate disposal fees for trim waste in manufacturing processes.

FlexForm Office Panel System

Office Panel System and Molded Drop Ceiling tiles using Wonderphyll

In addition, the FlexForm material has no added toxic volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.  Any naturally occurring VOC’s found in the natural fiber are well below industry standards set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and GreenguardTM, therfore its use can reduce a manufacturer’s total VOC emissions and improve interior air quality.

0810_CT_Interior2

Door Panel using FlexForm Technologies natural fiber composite

Backed by ASTM testing and quality control equipment, FlexForm’s laboratory is available to customers for development and rapid parts prototyping and feature both large and small presses, contact and forced hot air ovens. The team can also assist customers with equipment specifications, plant design, and installation of 3D press lines.

Company shot

FlexForm Technologies Company Photo. Photo by Don Daugherty Photography

 

FlexForm Technologies Timeline

-1999-

  • Company formed.
  • First vehicle applications to feature FlexForm natural fiber composites were the Chevy Impala package tray, Mercury Cougar door panel, Dodge Stratus door panel, Chrysler Sebring door panel and the Ford Expedition door insert.

-2000-

  • Began supplying natural fiber composite for use in Cadillac models as interior pillars.

-2001-

  • Current ownership group purchases FlexForm.
  • Begin producing natural fiber composite moldable suspended ceiling tiles.

-2002-

  • Launched website www.flexformtech.com.
  • Began supplying natural fiber composite substrate for use in non-automotive agriculture and construction vehicle interiors, for companies such as John Deere and Caterpillar.

-2004-

  • Began supplying natural fiber composite material to be used by Mercedes in the G, M and R Class vehicle door panels produced in Vance, AL.
  • Began supplying natural fiber composite material to the aerospace industry.

-2007-

  • First international shipment of natural fiber composite material to Mexico.
  • Began supplying natural fiber composite to be molded into the load-floor for the Honda Pilot.
    Began supplying moldable substrate that formed the shell of the Bernhardt Cardan Conference Chair.

-2008-

  • Completed 30,000 square foot building expansion to manufacture ASTM E-84 Class A fire retardant substrate for office systems.
  • Started supplying substrate for acoustic door panel inserts for acoustically rated doors for sound studios.

-2009-

  • Began shipping to office furniture OEMs such as Haworth, Knoll and Three H, supplying ASTM E-84 Class A fire retardant substrate for their respective office systems.

-2011-

-2012-

  • Began supplying material used in the Ford Escape door bolster.

-2014-

  • Began supplying material for use by Volkswagen in the Golf.
  • Began supplying material used in Mercedes C Class vehicles.
  • Introduced natural fiber composite material to the home and garden market.
  • Sponsored a student design competition at Rhode Island School of Design looking for innovative industrial designs using our material. Results may be seen on our website.
  • Began supplying material for use by BMW for under-body shield applications.

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.


Western Kentucky University Hemp Harvest

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

From an article published in the Park City Daily News, the first hemp crop in Kentucky to be grown under the new pilot program has been harvested. You can read more about it here. From the article, “Student volunteers and staff at Western Kentucky University began harvesting the university’s first hemp crop Thursday…”

Food And Farm Industrial Hemp

Hand Harvesting Hemp

 

“A provision in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed state agriculture departments and institutions of higher learning to grow industrial hemp as part of pilot programs to study hemp growth and marketing. WKU is one of a number of state universities that have grown hemp this year.

Before that act was signed into law, Kentucky passed Senate Bill 50 in 2013 to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill set up a framework for cultivation if it were to become legal on the federal level. It became law without Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature.”

Details of how the harvested the crop can also be found in the article, “Volunteers cut the hemp by hand Thursday.

It will later be shocked and left in the field, said Paul Woosley, an assistant professor in the WKU Agriculture Department. Exposure to the elements will help to separate the fiber of the plant. The process is called retting.”

“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” he said.

Part of developing hemp as a commercial crop in North America is determining which types of plants will do best in each climate and developing seed supply based on the best adapted types. To this end, the study involved planting 13 different types of hemp. Further details of the study tell us that, “The hemp harvested Thursday will be used to collect data on fiber production of the crop and optimum nitrogen levels needed to grow it. Another set of hemp plants will be harvested later to collect data on seed production…The data gathered at WKU will help to determine which seeds and fertilization rates are most successful with the type of soil common in the area”

Commercial Hemp production is one step closer to being a vital part of the agricultural economy of the USA with this harvest. Congratulations to the team at Western Kentucky University.