SEP 2018


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TRENDS SEPTEMBER 2018 18 CompositesWorld See us at CAMX Booth #BB27 Lingrove's Ekoa flax fiber/bio-epoxy resin products have delivered performance and a unique aesthetic in guitars, sporting goods and interior furnishings. But those were thermoset materials. The company has now launched Ekoa TP, using a lignin-based bio-thermoplastic for industrial- scale fast processing and recyclability in a structural composite that delivers the look and feel of wood but with much better sustainability. Wood is nature's structural composite, strong yet light- weight with cellulose fibers bound together by the natural polymer lignin. Wood remains a top choice for furniture, homes and interiors, but its sustainability is increasingly an issue due to deforestation — the reported net loss of forest is the size of California every three days and respon- sible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Flax is harvested in 100 days — compared to 25+ years for trees. It requires no irrigation and is CO 2 negative. Canada grows 1 million tons of flax per year for the seeds and throws away the stalks. Lingrove plans to use these stalks, working with an already industrialized global supply chain that delivers high-strength, low-density continuous fibers for composites. Lingrove blends these fibers with a non-food-sourced bio-thermoplastic that is recyclable. The result is Ekoa TP. A continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic roll good, once Ekoa TP is cut and layered in a mold, it becomes a structural composite material that is easily compression molded into 3D shapes. Lingrove founder Joe Luttwak began working with composites at Ferrari and then started Blackbird Guitar. His beautiful instruments made from Ekoa materials provided better resistance to humid- ity and temperature and no longer helped to fuel the $50 billion black market for poached old growth woods like rosewood and mahogany. Through years of developing and refining this technol- ogy, Luttwak created Lingrove to expand applications for Ekoa, but ran up against the issue of scalability. "We could see how thermoplastics offered fast processing and also easier recyclability," Luttwak notes. "Interiors and furniture manufacturers want materials that process at an industrial scale like plastics, but consumers want the look and feel of wood, as well as products that help prevent the planet's destruction, not contribute to it. Ekoa TP offers both." Lingrove is working with Steelcase (Grand Rapids, MI, US), the largest commercial interiors company in the world. "We are also selling pilot quantities to several of the largest furniture companies as well as into automotive interiors," Luttwak adds. Ultimately, Lingrove will offer products for the $150 billion construction market. "Composites are just emerging here, but 37% of global CO 2 emissions are from residential and commercial construction. This is a market where we can make a difference while delivering desired performance and aesthetics." Read more about it in the CW Blog | Flax fiber/bio-thermoplastic composite as wood replacement for interiors and construction Source | Lingrove

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