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6th February 2018, Valliquerville

Cap Seine backs flax innovators

Having been acquired by the French Cap Seine group in March 2017, EcoTechnilin is looking to accelerate the adoption of natural fibre-based composites by the automotive industry and other key sectors.

As a major agricultural cooperative dealing in plant-based products such as flax and hemp, grains, seed, plant protection technology and fertilizers based in Mont-Saint-Aignan, France, Cap Seine is providing the financial backing for a new investment drive that will bring benefits to many of its members in the bast fibre supply chain.

EcoTechnilin has been producing natural fibre nonwovens for over 20 years. © EcoTechnilin

During 2016, Cap Seine also acquired Lineo, of Meulebeke, Belgium, the developer of Flaxtape, a material consisting of unidirectional (UD) flax fibres which, in a patented process, are stretched and then sprayed with water and dried, so that the natural cement in the flax fibres is all that’s required to bind the material together.

The Flaxtape process was developed in a research project involving  Peugeot and its Tier 1 supplier Faurecia, as the starting point for Flaxpreg sandwich panel composites for automotive interior parts, including load floors, door panels, roof trim, instrument panels and seat backs.

Flaxpreg consists of plies of Flaxtape around a honeycomb core with BASF’s Acrodur water-based binding system. These composites have been proven to achieve a weight reduction of 50% compared to currently-used parts of glass fibres and polyurethane, and in addition, have a high stiffness at high temperature, along with a cost advantage of around 5%.

EcoTechnilin has been producing natural fibre nonwovens for over 20 years at a modern production facility with two Andritz lines in the heart of the Normandy flax fields in France. The plant produces up to an annual 7,000 tons of nonwoven mats, mainly destined to become parcel shelves, dash boards or interior trim panels for the global automotive industry.

EcoTechnilin’s recent innovations include FibriCard, which combines the flax with a waste-sugar-based bioresin in a lightweight composite, FibriPlast Hybrid, now in production for the door trims of the latest Mercedes E Class and FibriRock, a flame-resistant flax/bioresin prepreg.

As previously reported, EcoTechnilin’s production has been expanded at a new plant in Poland, which became operational in December 2017.

This is equipped with a new Andritz needlepunched nonwoven line taking EcoTechnilin’s capacity up to an annual 10,000 tons, in addition to new prepregging equipment.

The next investment will be in a new and bigger Flaxtape production line in France, according to managing director Karim Behlouli.

 “The close link created between Eco-Technilin and Linéo has already enabled many synergies between the two businesses, who already share the same customers with complementary products, as well as mutual R&D interests,” he said.

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