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 most viable structural fibres typically derive from specifically grown textile plants and fruit trees. Natural fibres are subdivided into bast fibres (flax, hemp, jute and kenaf) and leaf fibres (sisal, pineapples and henequen), grass fibres (bamboo and miscanthus), straw fibres (corn and wheat), seed fibres (cotton and capok), wood fibres (pinewood), and fruit fibres (coconut).Bast fibres bear the potential for composite usage based on their toughness and structural contribution. Flax fibres have the highest specific stiffness of all natural fibres, and turns a drawback of natural fibres into an advantage: Due to their limited length, they need to be processed into yarns by a spinning process, introducing a certain amount of twist into the yarn. When exposed to pressure perpendicular to its length direction, such a yarn will have the tendency to maintain their round cross-section. This is an advantage over glass or carbon yarns that tend flatten out due to a disassembly of the fibres constituting the yarns (read more about our ribs technology).
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.
Each balsa tree produces hundreds of thousands of seeds. These are carefully culled, and only the fittest are germinated in nurseries and planted on the farms.
The other ingredients for rapid healthy growth are contributed by nature: the rich Ecuadorian soil, rainfall that averages 90 inches a year and hot tropical sunlight.
BANOVA® is a balsa product innovation developed by 3A Composites offering a wide variety of veneer based material configurations. With a density of 40 – 60 % below any other wood based material, BANOVA® offers unique density advantages and its thermal conductivity is in the range of insulation materials. Based on FSC certified balsa, BANOVA® consists of multilayered sheets and panels offering almost unlimited possibilities.