Natural fibers can be defined as substances produced by plants and animals that can be spun into filament, thread or rope and in a next step be woven, knitted, matted or bound. The oldest fibres used by mankind are cotton (5000 BC) and silk (2700 BC), but even jute and coir have been cultivated since antiquity.
The main reasons for the increasing popularity of biocomposites or natural fibre composites (NFCs) are the availability and consistent quality of a wide range of fibres, and their environmental friendliness. Moreover, new production processes, such as injected molded components and the technologies, make it possible to use these materials for industrial products.
Additional key advantages of natural fibres are their high strength and stiffness per weight along with benefits such as acoustic isolation, safety management, rapid production and potentially lower cost.
The ecological superiority of flax fibres compared to glass fibres can be proven taking human toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions and non-renewable energy consumption in mind. All three properties present significantly smaller environmental impact for flax fibres. With adding the advantage of European origin, flax makes the perfect resource to build naturally smart products.
The balsa tree is the fastest growing tree in the world. It can grow from a tiny seedling to an adult 90 feet high in about 5-7 years. It grows straight and tall, with a trunk of about 50 cm in diameter, and is topped by a lush crown of very large leaves.
In comparison to the paulownia wood, poplar or bamboo, balsa has significantly smaller environmental impact due to its low density. Taking in account water usage, CO2 footprint and embodied energy, balsa wood has approximately 40% lower environmental impact than paulownia.
Another aspect, which contributes to its sustainability, is the certification of Banovabalsa wood with FSC-criteria. The balsa plantation in Ecuador takes care of indigenous people’ rights and maintains landscape, resources and biodiversity.