Flax Fibers in composites (interesting YouTube video)

40 posts |
Last post
lawless's picture
Joined: 05/21/2004

I'm interested in using flax for glassing boards and thought this was an insightful video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD98L9XlCTU



That channel has a bunch of other really good videos too. I especially like that they do the tensile break tests so there is some real-world empirical data on the strength of the materials used.

Anyone have any insight on using flax cloth to glass boards?
Strength looks to be about half that of s-glass based on the tests done in the video, so that's a bit problematic for durability.

like
0
gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

I've done a handful of hemp deckpatches and tail patches. I'll  use it if it fits the aesthetic of the board.     Once laid up, the cloth is very strong and it works great for patches, but the cloth is also extremely resin-thirsty so there are carbon-use tradeoffs with resin usage which go against whatever the savings there are with the cloth.  Not to mention the weight.  

like
0
gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

These are the guys I bought my cloth from.  It comes in 60" widths so a $16/yd fabric isn't really that expensive.   The color does turn darker when you hit it with resin.   

https://www.hemptraders.com/CT-L5-p/ct-l5.htm

like
0
mako224's picture
Joined: 12/26/2005

I've followed that YouTube channel for years.  I'd feally like to do forged carbon fiber fins the way they demonstrate the process in their videos.

like
0
mako224's picture
Joined: 12/26/2005

Regarding flax, I don't think I'd ever hand laminate something like that.  You need something like that under a vaccuume.

like
0
gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

I use a vacuum bag.  Wet layup with release film and bleeder cloth.   Under moderate vacuum I recovered very little excess resin.   I think the only way to maximize the resin/cloth ratio is via resin infusion, which is a process that I have never attempted.    

By the time you get into vacuum bagging the additional carbon footprint of the equipment and consumables involved is probably offsetting most of the savings when compared to using domestically produced fiberglass.     Being eco-trendy might help you pull more hippie chicks at the beach, though.  If you're into that sort of virtue signaling.    

IMO, the greenest surfboard you can build is the one that stands the test of time in both design and construction so that you never have to replace it.  That's how a "dirty" PU/PE build of a proven design can be a much greener solution in the long run than a succession of boards with the more fashionable designs and fashionable construction techniques.    

like
1
lawless's picture
Joined: 05/21/2004

Thanks for the insight into hemp gdaddy.
Your experience backs up what I've read about hemp being resin thirsty.
Flax seems to be similar depending on the weights and does seem to prefer being bagged.

Sanded AU has an interesting flax/basalt hybrid:
https://www.sanded.com.au/collections/surfboard-reinforcements/products/basalt-flax-hybrid-3oz-woven-cloth

Among a bunch of other interesting fabrics:
https://www.sanded.com.au/collections/surfboard-reinforcements

I 100% agree on the "greenest surfboard" concept. Durability is the greenest attribute to chase. I've gotten to the point where shapes/construction are fairly dialed on proven long-term - 10+ years (using my friends in the industry, not my own work) and am looking into the next step of incorporating more natural materials.

There's still some gains to be had there:
https://renewable-carbon.eu/news/natural-fibres-show-outstandingly-low-co2-footprint-compared-to-glass-and-mineral-fibres/

Realizing that this isn't going to change the world, but as a passion project it's a fun route to go down.
I've been really impressed with how well cork works in surfboards, having ridden cork boards now for 10+ years.

Those fins look good!

Another interesting link to natural materials being used in composite structures:
https://green-boats.de/?lang=en


Mako, forged fins would be interesting, but that's a whole other thread :D

like
0
lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

In Europe flax (linen) is often use in composits. Local products specific for composit are fine. Flax is lower density so at same weight need more resin than glass. Notox surfboards make a business with it. Fanatic use it for their eco build, earth boards from bic too, and many others. I use some, glass by hand, need some care like other light fiber. 

like
0
gbzausa's picture
Joined: 09/13/2009
I have never seen those hybrid cloths in the US , I would be interested to try some of them .
like
0
janop's picture
Joined: 08/19/2021

Hi everyone. I have minimun shaping experience, but do you think that something like this (osnaburg) could work, at least for deck patches? Maybe is not tight enougt, i don't know.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/RNcU4yEfIJw

Greetings

like
0
lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

Looks good for me but seems a bit thick so may be need more resin so weight will be high. You must glue it with resin and not saturated it like fiberglass. Brush resin on a sealed surface, lay and push fiber in with a bubble free compacter roller, let resin infused and add some over if needed lightly and spread/roll it firm. Fiber must look on the dry side. When resin is set at B stage cover with others layers (clear resin, fiberglass, syntactic foam...).

like
0
janop's picture
Joined: 08/19/2021

Thanks Lemat. I'll give it a try. Is a cotton fabric, known as osnabruck in europe, but a little bit thinner than the original. 

Greetings

like
0
lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

Cotton is short fiber, not good for tensil strength, can take lot of resin by expand while it's wet. Good candidat as bulker between fiberglass to thicken skin with less weight than all fiberglass and keep some impact/perforating strengh. My be quickly too much weight for surfboards skin. Try to laminate it in a 50/50 resin/microsphere mix to reduce weight. 

like
0
janop's picture
Joined: 08/19/2021

Thank you, Lemat. Good tips. I guess that the same technique could be used with another fabric like this one (linen, etc.)...

Greetings

like
0
McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

So;  What is the advantage.   I can bet it's not cost or price.  Most of these Hemp, Basalt and Flax fabrics cost quite a bit more than good old E or Warp fiberglass cloth.  Some(not all) are known to be not as strong as E or Warp.   Cosmetics ??  If you like the look, cosmetics are the only advantage.   I do suppose though something can be said for stiffness or flex.  Plus or minus.
 

like
0

That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008
Years ago we had that graduate student who was doing his thesis on surfboard materials, and he delved into the natural fibers. One of his observations was that the natural fibers were less consistent in their respective attributes. Meaning that one swatch might not have as much consistency with another swatch when compared to the manufactured fiberglass. The other aspect that I don't see a lot of discussion on is the hydrophobic properties of these natural fibers vs that of the fiberglass and various plastic fabrics. I mean, when you have to struggle just to wet out a plastic fiber with resin then that's got to say something about it's hydrophobics when laid up in a lamination. I always covered my veneers and hemp and other inlays with fiberglass, so those boards aren't much, if any, greener than a conventional fiberglass layup.
like
0
lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

Yes many studies show low consistency of natural fibers composits. Linen (flax) seems to be the less affected. Then water durability can be a problem but I think less with tissue full of resin than veneers embedded in resin. For me greener board is longer life board. If you can make it with lower impact products it's better but my main goal is time durability, where plastic are very good in humid environment... 

like
1
McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

Lemat--    Your emphasis on durability is the way it (the whole industry) should go.  But it won't because of greed..    Since Covid it is hard to say how much influence cheap imports have.  But pre-Covid the markets here in the USA were flooded with cheap disposable CCP Chinese imports.   There are so many cheap short boards for sale on Craigslist.   If manufacturers were to concentrate on durability there would be fewer boards on Craigs and fewer in the dumpster.   Ironic that one manufacturer has a "Dumpster Diver" model.  If boards had some built in durability they would cost more , but be worth more.  Less depreciation.  As it is;  prices are up, but durability is down.  Which means you pay a lot for a new board,  but in a month or two, it's not worth half of what you pay for it new.

like
0

That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

Same here in Europe. I still think problem is consumers. They want more to pay less than to have real durability. They want to believe the "ultra light durable" marketing bullshit then they are a bit disappointed when they find it's wrong, but they go again, so... Know pré covid they pay more for same shit but they still want it... It's label on board that make price, I repair some full price channel island and Stewart so badly made! 

like
0
lawless's picture
Joined: 05/21/2004

Yeah, the formula for a stronger board is pretty simple. Use epoxy and S-glass. Over a poly or EPS core.

A stringerless EPS glassed with epoxy and s-glass is about as simple as you can get and provides an extremely durable, light board that is highly repeatable.

I'm just curious to try and replace some of these materials with more natural materials now.
 

like
0
gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

As far as alternatives go, veneers are a little stronger and use a lot less resin.   

like
0
lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

gdaddy wrote:

As far as alternatives go, veneers are a little stronger and use a lot less resin.   

From my experience, for our use (skin over foam) at same weight sandwiched veneers are far stronger (durable) than plain fibers if you deal with water attack. Always at same weight Pvc foam sandwich are ultra stiff but puncture fragile, you could find an happy medium with cork sandwich.

For greener build I would go the wood/cork sandwiched with eglass and ecoresin on recycled eps. That way you can build strong long life board at good weight and feel. 

like
2
McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

That's it right there.  Any shaper/builder can do it.   But even guys like me who believe, won't.  At least not very often.    It comes down to economics, costs etc.  Most here on the West Coast USA are using traditional Poly/Poly or EPS/Epoxy with a hand layup.   Some throw a few unique things into the layup like Carbon, Tapes, Nets etc.  But still a hand layup with E or Warp fabric.  Three or four equal quality Poly foams and three or four EPS Foams.   Not much change or innovation there.  Although all thre Poly Foam manufacturers have greatly continued to refine their products.  EPS quality has not changed in my opinion.  Even a new start up here in the Nortwest doesn't look any different than established and existing EPS foams. Maybe not as good.

like
0

That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

IMO a simple retail-grade epoxy-over-PU build is not too heavy to hinder most surfers in day-to-day conditions.  They're at their best when they're properly post-cured.  .They're not ding magnets and even if you do get a ding it doesn't become a life-altering event for the board.   If a glasser wants to max out an epoxy glass job without incurring the weight penalty they can bump the glassing up to S-glass, although I think E-glass is still a better match for epoxy than it is for the PE resins.   

I am not averse to doing a veneer but the main reason I'd do a veneer or a hemp fin patch is for the aesthetics and if it fits in with the board design.   Which brings us right back to the point that the shape is still the thing.   

like
0
lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010
For a "nice" weight, on board that "need" lightness to "work", skin weight allow by PU blank is too low to build what I think is a durable board, a board that not ding "for nothing". For that you need a beefier, heavier, skin and so start on lighter foam. Skin don't need to be very stiff, that give a higher bending stiffness, good for ultimate buckling strengh (ie break in half strengh), but though, that give strengh against dents and dings.
like
0
greenlight's picture
Joined: 08/14/2006

www.greenlightsurfsupply.com

I did a lot of research and development of natural fibers and composites from 2004-2012 and had a custom white flax fibreglass woven for us. Here's a image of a 6'0" bat tail quad I built and surfed a bunch back in the day.

Flax and epoxy is pretty bullet proof - heavy and stiff though. Natural fibers absorb a lot of resins. Treating with a fabric softener creates somewhat of a hydrophobic barrier on the fibers and reduces resin consumption by about 10%...

Flax doesn't sand well at all so I made paper stencils of Hawaiian Tiki Gods to cover the lap line.

Overall there's a good reason we still use fiberglass for surfboards - it works well, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive.

like
1
~Brian 
gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

The greenest board is still the one that is sufficiently well designed and built  - and sufficiently well cared for - that it never needs to be replaced.   

I can't tell you how mad I used to get when my kids treated their boards poorly, not using board bags, not covering them up when they were laying out at the beach, throwing them into the back of a truck to let them bounce around loose.   An Epoxy/PU board that's even nominally taken care of can last indefinitely without breaking down.    

like
0
McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004


Last sentence says it all.  Wish I could convince more people of that combination.  Gonna start doing more of them myself.   I already do a board that has a dent free deck.  Hard as a rock and that's with Poly.  What one needs to do is figure out the cosmetics that fit Epoxy best so as to please the crowd.  Stretch has done pretty well at that by using Pastel colors sprayed on foam.  

like
1

That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

Stretch's program is so impressive.  His use of deck channels and his post cure program are top notch.    Some of the hi-tech exotic builds might be equal in build quality but I can't think of any production builders with build quality that actually exceeds.   I might be wrong about that but if so I doubt it's by much.      

like
0
McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

There are others that try, but Stretch is totally consistent in what he does.  Because I sell Marko up here,  I know that he is their #1 guy.  They pay attention to him and what he thinks(input).

like
0

That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

lemat's picture
Joined: 04/17/2010

Most dings are made out of water by  not taking care of board, when you have ever make, sand, one you take care LOL. A thicker lam is far stronger against dings, epoxy better here than poly. Board snap I more from waves shape. Place I make board for eat boards. One guy use to buy imported stretch boards, they don't last so more than others. I make him thick micro sandwich skin with strong biax and omega carbon stiffners, not light but they survive. 

like
0
sanded's picture
Joined: 08/24/2012

double up

like
0

www.sanded.com.au

sanded's picture
Joined: 08/24/2012

Hi guys

Been watching this thread with interest, as our products have been mentioned. We have a lot of companies using our flax and basalt hybrids. A lot of the comments here are right - best Eco board... One which lasts the longest!

But what if you can build a board with eco fibres and they do last last? This is why we have designed, built and tested every fabric and fibre we offer in our range. We have a R&D testing factory on our shop premisis and we test everything before we sell it. One of the favourites mentioned is Basalt flax hybrid - its a great cloth and weight of 3.7oz suits surfboards. wetted out weight is very similar to 4oz eglass - as with all these eco fabrics the better results are with Epoxy.

We have done tests with a big board company  R&D dept and with Epoxy and basalt you can put more weight onto a basalt board than a normal fiberglass epoxy  board this company has a board breakage machine set up. Each time we tested a basalt (and some of its hybrids) over a  4x4x4 board you could put on 50-150kg more pressure before it broke.

Flax we do a 3oz cloth so weight cloth is slightly more than a 4oz wetted out. Again in the test machine it handled ok... breakage was just under a 4x4x4 board (broke about 20-50kg less pressure than the 4x4x4) we were not looking at compression the company we worked with were looking at breakage  for an eco series - they will be coming out with a range in a special hybrid we did for them later this year.

So these fabrics do have a place in surf - I know its not for everyone.. same as the ole "poly vs epoxy"camp. I personally like the look of the eco boards - and performance can be the same to your usual 4x4x4. I usually ride basalt (and hybrids) boards and most of my boards are still surfable in performance after 5 years which my old 4x4x4 wouldnt do.. 

like
0

www.sanded.com.au

sanded's picture
Joined: 08/24/2012

. it doubled up while posting?

like
0

www.sanded.com.au

lawless's picture
Joined: 05/21/2004

Hey sanded, thanks for chiming in!
That's great to hear your'e actually testing the materials, I think that's a big missing step to have some apples to apples data on equivalent builds with various materials and layups.

Do you have any distributors in the US, or do you just do international shipping?

Been following you on Insta so I see a lot of the stuff you post. Always impressed by the build quality and willingness to experiment.

Here's an interesting read in context of Flax gaining some traction in boatbuilding:
https://www.proboat.com/2022/05/greenboats-flax/

A relevant excerpt from that article:
"While not as lightweight and as stiff as carbon fiber, it (flax) takes less than 1% of the energy (measured in megajoules, MJ) to produce, and less than 9% of the energy required to manufacture glass fibers, according to a life cycle assessment (LCA) calculation done with the MarineShift 360 software (see below and sidebar). That LCA also ranks flax fibers and bio-based epoxy resin at the top of low-emission composite materials, close behind hemp, ahead of basalt fibers, and way ahead of glass fibers in polyester resin."

I'm just trying to find some alternatives that are equivalent to a standard epoxy layup but less impactful on the environment.

like
0
sanded's picture
Joined: 08/24/2012

Thanks Lawless

Speak to Timmy from RevChem and also the guys at Fibreglass Florida, They can get stuff in.. actually looking at launching our Keyline Epoxy over there also.. so hopefully soon you guys will have access to that as well.

Cheers

like
0

www.sanded.com.au

gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

Unless you walk to your surf spot the mode of transportation you use to go surf has a bigger impact on the carbon footprint of what you're doing than the materials in your surfboard.   The wetsuit or trunks you wear, the leash,  all of it.   

If you want to be a good world citizen then stop surfing.   If you don't want to do that then build your boards to last and only build enough boards to round out your quiver.    Insofar as the hierarchy of needs go, function comes first and fashion comes last

like
0
lawless's picture
Joined: 05/21/2004

That's a pretty nihilistic view gdaddy.

I get the sentiment, and you are correct, but that's not a pre-requisite to learning and experimenting.

If you can't do it all, do nothing... gets us nowhere.

Appreciate your feedback though, your assessments have been right on.


This quote sums up my current mindset in regards to this topic:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is more people that have come alive."
- Howard Thurman

like
0
gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

Suffice it to say that "greener" has been a topic of discussion here for many years and the outcome remains the same.   Performance is a good reason to keep an eye on new materials but it's like anything else, there is always a point of diminishing returns.   If you're using more resin or more sealers or more cups or more tape or more brushes to work with a fiber then that counts in its footprint.   If you're vacuum bagging to use a cloth then the consumables AND the additional equipment and energy it takes to use that process counts toward the footprint of that clotth.   If you're using acetone in conjunction with using a resin then the acetone contributes to the footprint of the resin.   And so forth.   

The sum consists of multiple factors, not just one or two.   

Just as an example, I don't buy or use fin boxes for the multifin installs, I make my fins and glass them on.  That alone will offset whatever eco-savings you can get out of using a different cloth and the so-called eco-epoxy for your lamination.     I make leash loops instead of using fin plugs.   I'll use alternate materials if it suits the aesthetic but I don't indulge in the fiction that I'm saving the planet.  I don't live in a pup tent or grow my own food or forego the use of electronics in my lifestyle, all of which contribute a lot more to my footprint than what choice of cloths or resins or blanks I use to build a surfboard.   

If your pusuit of green construction makes you feel better about it then by all means, you do you.  After all, these board are in part an expression of our individuality.  Or our tribal uniform, if you want to look at it that way.      But the one thing I know is that the wave doesn't care what our personal virtues are.  

like
1
McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

Haha!  Esoteric!   Convenient to the inconvenient truth.  Better to buy Chinese soft tops and let them do the polluting.

like
0

That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.