Flax Fiber, A Serious Production Option For Automotive And Mobility

ampliTex and powerRibs bodywork bside c Bcomp

TW Special Report

Automotive and Mobility manufacturers continue to evaluate Flax and Hemp materials across their model ranges as they seek to reduce the overall environmental impact of their products,while taking advantage of their technical properties, reports the Alliance of European Flax Linen & Hemp.

Natural fibers have been used for many years to reduce the carbon footprint in components such as acoustic insulation, headliners and interior moldings that exploited the fibers’ vibration damping and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) benefits. However, these applications have generally been parts that kept the fibers hidden. Flax is now being used in more visible parts and in significantly higher volumes.

EX30 Volvo

In one of the first visible interior trim packages to be available for a large volume series produced automobile, the new, all-electric, Volvo EX30 marks a major step for Volvo and Alliance member Bcomp, as customers can now select two interior trim packages featuring the natural aesthetics of woven ampliTexÔ flax fibers. The compact SUV focuses on sustainability and is designed to have the lowest carbon footprint of any model in Volvo Cars’ history, with Bcomp’s flax fiber composites now offered as an optional trim for the dashboard and doors of the EX30.

ampliTex and powerRibs bodywork Bcomp

Bcomp has recently completed its Series C funding round with a $40 million investment, led by Swiss institutional investor EGS Beteiligungen AG (EGSB), allowing the company to scale-up its production capacity for the automotive sector and develop new customer markets.

Representing the more bespoke end of the transport market, Greenlander, in partnership with investor and flax material specialist Depestele, showcased the Sherpa — the ultimate 4×4 expedition vehicle built to leave less impact as it travels — at JEC World Paris 2024 this year.

SHERPA Greenboat

The Sherpa, which will be formally launched at the Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf this summer, combines plant-based fibers like flax with bio-based resins and sustainable core materials like cork, wood and recycled PET foam to create durable and lightweight components. As well as the low impact materials, Greenlander also provides a unique business model, offering the composites items as a service and taking them back at the end of their life where they can then be repurposed or recycled.

Several other Alliance members have also developed colored flax solutions which are likely to become increasingly important as visual fiber flax solutions become more established in transport applications. Bcomp has successfully established a production route for back-injected automotive interior parts that uses its ampliTexÔ PP thermoplastic materials, combining speed and cost benefits of back-injection with the sustainability and performance improvements of colored natural fibers.

Terre de Lin, specialists in the production of dedicated flax fibers and rovings for composites, also launched 100-percent dyed flax fiber colored rovings at JEC World Paris 2024 this year. These untwisted 200 to 2400 tex rovings are chemical free and suitable for weaving, knitting, braiding, pultrusion, filament winding and automatic fibers placement processes.

“The latest automotive market developments for flax fibers see these unique natural fibers establishing a position as leading technical alternatives to traditional composite fibers,” comments Julie Pariset, Innovation & CSR director of the Alliance. “Scalable production, high-speed thermoplastic processing and multiple aesthetic color options now enable our members to meet mainstream automotive industry customer requirements.”

Source: Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp