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High-tech flax and hemp — from car panels to lightweight concrete

Posted on January 4, 2004

While textile flax produced in France is exported all over the world for the production of high-quality linen clothes and sheets, these natural fibres are now being re-discovered by French manufacturers and put to unexpected and exciting uses. Increasingly, flax is being used by automotive equipment manufacturers as a source of raw material that is environmentally friendly and less dangerous — in the event of a vehicle crashing — when used for interior panels in cars. Hemp fibres are also employed in industry to provide rigidity for plastics and in buildings as a natural insulator.

Plasticana hemp sandal

Posted on October 15, 2000

Plasticana — a thermoplastics material combining hemp fiber with industrial manufacturing process (injection) — will be commercially available soon, in the form of the traditional french beach sandal.

Solid hemp

Posted on October 14, 2000

Puffing on a marijuana cigarette while, say, cruising along California’s Highway 101 is still illegal, but you can drive a convertible on the road with door panels made partially from hemp, marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin.

Meet Marijuana’s Cousin, Hemp

Posted on October 2, 2000

You won’t get high on marijuana’s cousin, hemp, but the Johnson Controls auto unit got pretty excited about its natural fibers, which are both inexpensive and constantly renewed with each year’s crop.

Rearview Mirror

Posted on August 1, 2000

59 Years Ago: Hoping to find a way to avoid the effects of a steel shortage, Ford Motor Co. unveils a version of its standard production car with experimental composite body panels reportedly made from compressed soybean material. (Other reports indicate that the ‘soybean’ car’s body panels were made from synthetic resin reinforced with material derived from hemp and spruce pulp).

DaimlerChrysler Corporation to Expand Use Of Natural Fibers in Automotive Components

Posted on July 17, 2000

DaimlerChrysler Corporation will equip the new Mercedes-Benz Travego travel coach with a natural fiber-reinforced engine and transmission cover as standard equipment, the first natural fiber-reinforced exterior vehicle component to go into series production.

Lear Corporation Introduces Two New Polymers for Interior Applications

Posted on June 8, 2000

Lear Corporation, one of the world’s premier automotive interior suppliers, has launched two new polymer materials to be used in some of Lear’s future offerings of interior trim products: door panels, pillars and trunk trim.

North American Demand for Natural Fibers in Plastic Composites Forecast to Grow 15% to 50% Annually

Posted on June 6, 2000

Natural fibers, used to fill and reinforce both thermoplastics and thermosets, represent one of the fastest-growing types of polymer additives. Based on a market study currently being conducted by Kline & Company, forecast North American demand for both wood and agricultural fiber used as plastic additives ranges from 15% to 20% per year in automotive applications, to 50% or more per year in selected building products.

Tough as Soybeans

Posted on January 20, 2000

Back in 1940, when Henry Ford wanted to test the strength of a car trunk made from an experimental soybean-based material, he stunned onlookers by whacking it with an ax. Mr. Ford may have been an eccentric, but he also was way ahead of his time in trying new materials to improve cars.

US Market for Natural Fiber Composites Exceeds $200 Million in 1999

Posted on December 16, 1999

The market for natural fiber thermoplastic composites has experienced exceptional growth in recent years with U.S. demand exceeding $200 million in 1999.