The innovative method allows developing new manufacturing technologies that use widely available natural fibres like linen or silk instead of man-made plastics.
For Natural Fibre Welding Inc., it was the main aim to develop a scalable fabrication platform that reformats natural fibres like cotton, silk or hemp to create stronger and longer-lasting materials. Nowadays, vegan leathers were largely made by coating natural fibres in plastic.
A circular process for using natural fibres to duplicate a wide variety of materials normally made from plastics is being developed. The process uses chemicals that are completely recovered during the process, the overall effect being to “glue” the fibres together without actually using any glue.
The innovative technology could become a major game-changer for the future of natural fibres, the US Department of Defence experts say. The Pentagon-funded project has developed the process that is setting a precedent to be used for almost any product that currently uses plastic.
As Springwise reports, Natural Fibre Welding eliminates the need for man-made plastic, and could potentially eliminate problems associated with plastic microfiber pollution. The company was awarded almost €1.8 million in small business funding to develop new processes and materials, including electronic textiles.
The process allows complex composite materials to be assembled quickly and efficiently, creating structures with properties that were once only found in plastics. It also allows the company to create fabrics and materials designed for specific purposes. One such product is a faux leather that is completely natural and “tuneable”, its structure altered to give specific properties and performances.
In its turn, Natural Fibre describes its work as “reformatting to broaden the spectrum of natural capabilities.”