A new family of materials, Biotex Commingled Flax/PP, Biotex Commingled Flax/PLA and Biotex Flax yarns, fabrics and pre consolidated sheets will be launched at Composites Europe in Stuttgart. The materials use a unique Twistless Technology to provide high levels of performance and processability normally associated with glass reinforced materials. Composites Evolution will be displaying an all natural canoe built using Biotex Flax at the upcoming Composites Europe Show.
Although natural fibres are already being used to reinforce conventional plastics, for example in injection moulded or press moulded interior parts for the automotive industry, the natural fibres are generally short and randomly oriented giving relatively low mechanical properties. The Biotex materials are based on twistless yarns with long, aligned fibres to exploit the inherent mechanical properties of flax in load-bearing applications, with the added advantage of having a lower weight than conventional reinforcements such as glass fibres.
The canoe has been built by Flaxland, in the UK, and is made from 1 layer of Biotex Flax Hopsack weave and a UV cured bioresin (EcoComp UV-L resin), provided by Sustainable Composites. It is constructed using a marine plywood and European pine frame, that is covered using the Biotex material, then impregnated with the linseed based EcoCompUV-L resin. The canoe is currently undergoing long term durability and water resistance tests and, according to Simon Cooper, owner of Flaxland, has shown good results for over one year already. He is now looking to roll out the design to larger rowing boats.