JEC 2023: flax and hemp fibre composites among its biggest stars

At the JEC World 2023 trade show, the Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp presented innovations developed by its members specialising in flax fibre composites. An event that aims to highlight the potential of European flax in the composites industry.

Varian wall tiles
copyright CultureIn

Flax fibre: increasingly durable and high-performance composites

Members of the Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp participated in the JEC World 2023 trade show. At the show, they presented their expertise in composite materials (composite textiles, 2D, UD, etc) as well as flax fibre solutions on offer to industry.

At the same time, the Alliance reasserted its commitment to promoting flax-based composites and their performance, known for their light weight, vibration absorption and shock dampening qualities. To achieve this, the agro-industrial organisation relies on a solid scientific foundation: studies and technical reports which it sometimes conducts with universities.

The Alliance is also designing tools for calculating the environmental footprint of flax production (LCA) while respecting stringent European standards. This has allowed the Alliance to provide data for its programme of support for materials manufacturers. This programme provides them with guidance in estimating their environmental footprint as well as in the production process of natural fibres for the near future.

Flax solutions: added value for the automotive industry

Alpine fibre composite copyright Alpine

Today, automotive companies face two main challenges: complying with legislation while also designing “cleaner” vehicles. In this economic context, European flax is an appealing solution.

The intrinsic properties of flax fibres allow automotive manufacturers to combine excellent performance with more sustainable production methods.

Flax-based composites have similar or sometimes even superior properties compared with traditional composites. Its excellent shock absorption capacities and resistance to breakage make this natural fibre composite a promising element in automotive safety.

On the other hand, since flax is low in density, it can be used to make lightweight composites, a crucial element in reducing the weight of car batteries. This is one of the reasons Alpine is already using these materials in the design of its vehicles.

On the other hand, since flax is low in density, it can be used to make lightweight composites, a crucial element in reducing the weight of car batteries. This is one of the reasons Alpine is already using these materials in the design of its vehicles.

Flax fibre: an assert in the aerospace sector

In the aerospace industry, the properties of flax have contributed to the creation of parts that are crucial to safety: thermal protection systems, satellite structural panels, etc.

At the same time, flax-based solutions are a great way to help manufacturers reduce their environmental impact.

Such was the case at this year’s show with the presentation of equipment for aircraft interiors: Lufthansa Technik’s AeroFLAX cabin interior panels (renewable reinforcements), door frame coverings etc.

Players in the aerospace industry continue to choose flax fibre, which improves performance while also achieving environmental goals.

Aeroflax cabin interior Lufthansa Technik copyright Aeroflax Lufthansa Technik

The flax solution: its advantages for composites for sport and leisure

Pagaie fibre composite copyright Arko3 Melker of Sweden

Consumers are looking for high-quality equipment that they can use for years to come.

To meet this need, manufacturers in the sports and leisure sectors have turned towards products containing flax composites: snow shoes, snowboards, skis, kayak paddles etc.

The expanding choice can be explained by the properties of flax fibre: its flexibility, damping capacity (vibrations), lightness, good mechanical resistance and user comfort.

Sailing: the properties of flax composites

In the sailing industry, flax fibres are gradually being adopted for the same reasons; high-performing technical solutions.

A market leader, the brand Bénéteau was singled out at the show for its industrial production of nautical components based on a hybrid glass/hemp fibre complex.

The Alliance is pushing the boundaries of innovation even further to conquer the sailing market. For instance, the new TER2A MAT reinforcement combining hemp and glass was displayed at JEC World 2023.

In addition, flax fibre composites are promising materials for competitions. One needs to look no further than the victory of Team Malizia, a 60-foot yacht, in the third stage of The Ocean Race. The yacht was equipped with composite hatches and interior surfaces made of flax.

Crosscall Sicomin Grand Largue Composites lift V2 Marc Lombard copyright Crosscall Sicomin

Flax and hemp solutions in the world of design

While style remains essential to design, the structural properties of materials are also very important. In the fields of design and lifestyle, many consumers now consider the need to decrease waste as an important selection criterion.
To meet these new expectations, some brands and companies have already turned towards flax composites: Varian, EcoTechnilin and Demgy, for example. The latter also showcased its flax composite products at JEC World 2023.

JEC World 2023: flax plant fibres in the spotlight

The trade show is an ideal platform for exchanges on technical innovations and sustainable development. The Alliance and its members from the flax industry were up to the task.
As the only European agro-industrial organisation, the Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp possesses a wealth of data and support solutions. Its goal is to place flax and hemp on the global podium of innovative and particularly sustainable natural fibres in use today. This goal is also furthered by businesses participating in the trade show which have chosen flax composites for their product ranges.