Plain sailing for flax…published: February 22nd, 2011
Last October, the first 6.5-metre flax-carbon fibre composite racing boat crossed the finishing line of the Mini Barcelona single-handed boat race.
The boat, called Araldite is a ‘mini-transat' – the smallest offshore racing boat certified to cross the Atlantic and the first racing boat to incorporate 50% flax fibres impregnated with epoxy resin, notably in compsites in the the hull, helm and hold.
The ultimate goal in building Araldite was to adopt a cleaner production process and to use a renewable natural fibre with carbon fibre without compromising performance properties and weight.
To achieve this, Lineo, a Belgian company specialising in flax reinforcements, provided specially-treated fibres to ensure perfect compatibility between the flax and the Araldite warm curing system.
This technological exploit, undertaken in a partnership between Huntsman, Libeco and Linéo, delivers lightness, easy handling and resistance characteristics inherent to flax fibres. The final result is a boat which is amongst the lightest of its category.
Lineo's technology coats the flax fibres with epoxy resins in such a way that absorption of water from the flax is prevented and strong bonds between the flax and the epoxy resin are created, ensuring the quality of the laminate.