Flax could herald a greener future

15 October 2019

Research into the beneficial properties of flax as a reinforcement in laminate production and using the naturally grown material in superyacht construction is well advanced at Baltic Yachts.


Flax is an environmentally friendly, naturally grown crop which can be used as a reinforcement in a resin matrix with similar and, in some respects, better properties than those of other materials.


Now we are exploring ways of using it in superyacht construction to make our products greener and to cut raw material costs.


We’re also investigating the material’s sound deadening properties which could enable us to reduce the use of insulation and in turn reduce weight.


Research shows flax is a green and versatile material and we are working hard at finding ways of introducing it and benefitting from its properties in superyacht construction.


Pekka Laurila, who is heading up the research into flax at Baltic Yachts, is working with specialist company Bcomp who have evolved the use of flax and worked out how to spin the fibres to take maximum advantage of their mechanical properties.


Pekka Laurila with two flax samples, the larger one a floorboard with a flax laminate over a foam core, finished with a thin wood veneer. The small sample shows how effective flax with a clear varnish finish and a balsa core could be for cladding.


For yacht construction, flax as a reinforcement would be ideally suited to cable tray mouldings, partly because of the lack of conductivity, and there are great advantages in interior panelling, shelves, floorboard panels and support construction.


The use of flax could also reduce maintenance by using it in place of wood for superstructure cladding, for instance. Clear-coated flax can be made to closely resemble a timber finish and wouldn’t need to be re-varnished every year.


We have decided to implement flax in our production this coming autumn in non-structural applications and as we gain experience we will apply it in other areas.


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