Biofiber Tech has been part of a Swedish project funded by Bioinnovation, being the first in the world to 3D-print a full-size kayak in one piece with a wood fibre and recycled plastic compound. The kayak is made of recycled plastic that is reinforced with wood fiber from Swedish forests, our very own FibraQ®. The breakthrough opens up for a competitive production of more sustainable and circular products with our FibraQ 3D compounds.
3D printing has so far been a relatively unexplored area for Biofiber Tech, but for this project with RISE and the kayak manufacturer Melker of Sweden we have developed a FibraQ 3D compound that works for printing a kayak in one piece.
"The mix is extremely interesting. A new type of wood fiber from Biofiber Tech means that we can use bio-based raw material and recycled plastic that is rarely used in products with high requirements. One-piece 3D printing means fast, flexible and cost-effective manufacturing. The technology opens up for more design freedom and a customised production. We see it as an obvious part of a bio-based and circular production of water sports products" - Pelle Stafshede, CEO of Melker of Sweden.
Our Founder and CEO Eric Zhang concludes that the knowledge of which materials are suitable for 3D printing is limited. Manufacturing such a large object from only recycled plastic gave poor results, but by reinforcing it with our new type of surface-treated wood fiber FibraQ®, the kayak became light and durable.
3D printing with only recycled plastic would not work well because PP/PE plastics alone shrinks a lot. There for fiber fillers are needed. And this is where our innovation FibraQ plays an important role, since compared to other natural fibers FibraQ allow good dispersion, and therefore allowing us to have a good layer adhesion
Biocomposites like this mean that we can use recycled plastic to a greater extent in the industry and increase the circularity of a number of products. Boats and kayaks are just one example. In the long run, we can manufacture furniture and other large objects from materials that are more durable than those used today.
In a few years' time, the 3D-printed kayaks will be on the market. Even now, the technology can be used to produce prototypes for half the cost. To enable an industrial breakthrough, RISE proposes a sharing economy solution where companies jointly invest in the new technology and establish centers for 3D printing.
"We need to share knowledge and technology for 3D printing to hit large-scale. The technology is new and knowledge of the implementation and the suitability of the materials is limited. With the right conditions, 3D printing can contribute to Sweden achieving climate goals, managing the transition to more sustainable production and strengthening its global competitiveness" - Ting Yang Nilsson, project manager at RISE.
Melker of Sweden
Melker of Sweden was founded 2015 in Hammarö by local serial entrepreneur, innovator and designer Pelle Stafshede, with the bold ambition to completely game change the outdoor hardware industry. They see an interplay between the environment, ethics and economy being strategically important.
They see innovation, design, research and development as a long-term investment for the company, coming generations and the great outdoors. Making the best products is crucial for saving the planet as well as sharing what is learned with others
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden
RISE is a Swedish state-owned research institute, collaborating with universities, industry and the public sector. RISE perform industry research and innovation as well as testing and certification.
BioInnovation is a strategic innovation program initiated by the Forest Industries, IKEM and TEKO. The program is funded by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas within the framework of the joint initiative Strategic Innovation Areas and the stakeholders from business, academia, institutes and the public sector who participate. The goal is to increase the value added and competitiveness of the Swedish bio-based sector by creating the best possible conditions for developing new bio-based materials, products and services.