Natural fiber sandwich panel

EconCore is partnering with natural fiber specialist Flaxco to develop a new thermoplastic honeycomb sandwich panel.

The new panel uses Flaxco’s flax fiber composite skins and EconCore’s polypropylene (PP) honeycomb material. Flax is a 100% natural fiber that produce lower CO2 levels than glass and carbon fibers an increasingly important element within the automotive industry, Econcore said.

According to the companies, the panel has an improved performance-to-weight ratio and more efficient energy absorption due to the material’s honeycomb shaped hollow cells which support woven sandwich sheets.

Once created the panels can be thermoformed thanks to their thermoplastic properties using short cycle compression moulding.

“Flaxco’s natural flax fibre polypropylene composites are an ideal combination with our polypropylene honeycomb cores to achieve a sustainable material that retains high levels of performance,” said Dr Jochen Pflug, EconCore CEO. “The production costs of thick monolithic laminates are high because many layers need to be combined, our honeycombs increase the stiffness and strength but require only a minimal amount of material in two thin surface layers.”

The flax composite material is suitable for applications including automotive interiors and computer casings.