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Decortication

Bast fibers plant stems are made up of two constituents, a woody core called hurd and the fiber.  Both of these materials can be used in a variety of ways.

Before natural cellulose fibers from bast fiber plants can be utilized for composites, a process of cleaning and separating needs to occur to extract the fibers. For a majority of the bast fiber industry, the extraction begins in the field with a process called retting. The plants are cut down and left to ret in the field, meaning the enzymes in the air break down the compounds that hold fibers to the hurd, allowing the fiber to come off of the hurd easier. What is left in the field is then baled and taken to a processing facility in order to clean the bast fibers.

First, the fibers need to be pared off of the hurd that make up the main structure of the plant using a decorticator. The fiber/hurd mixture is then run through a second time to ensure the larger hurd pieces are removed. The fiber is sent through a refining machine, which generally has three stages to it, coarse, middle and fine. The refining machine increases fiber fineness and removes any excess hurd that might be still attached to the fiber. The fiber can then undergo any necessary surface treatments in order to meet customer specifications. More often than not, the fiber undergoes a chemical cottonization process in order to become suppler and can be a drop in replacement for use on cotton textile equipment. The hurd that is separated from the fiber during the entire process is being captured on a series of conveyor belts underneath the processing equipment, or carried with pneumatic tubes to its final processing destination, to be used for paper applications or animal bedding.

Mechanical Processing

Bamboo

Bamboo

Bamboo is a woody perennial grass requiring almost no pesticides, fertilizers or additional watering.

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Hemp

Hemp

Hemp is gaining a large amount of interest in the composite industry.

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Flax

Flax

Flax fiber is the original natural fiber being used in composites for linens and food applications.

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Kenaf

Kenaf

Kenaf is another bast fiber readily available for non-woven composite applications.

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Other Materials

Other Materials

Sunstrand can import and process other specialty fibers.

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