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Monday, March 11, 2013

Hemp Reinforced Plastics

Henry Ford was the first person to develop a hemp plastic. The famous pictures and film of Henry Ford striking a model-T with an axe and the rebound of the axe head was a means of showing off the amazing strength of fibre composites. What type of composite plastic this was is unknown.
Polypropylene is a versatile plastic and probably the most commonly used in the world today. Hemp plastic was used the first time to make the 'High-Fly' Frisbee. The annual use of plastic around the world has increased from a mere 5m or so tonnes in the 1950's, to a massive 100m tonnes today. From a single tonne of plastic, manufacturers could produce 20,000 two litre bottles, or 100,000 shopping bags. Today's average household dustbin has a 7% plastic content.
Although a significant proportion of PP is used in fibre production, the remainder is nearly all used in injection moulding. Although hemp fibre blended with PP - whilst improvements to heat properties and tensile strength of the plastic are desirable - is more expensive generally.
Only in the Last year have we seen the introduction of new larger production centres which have improved the cost of production and include the manufacture of hemp reinforced PP, Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and PolyLactic acid (PLA). A 50% hemp content is usual in these plastics but up to 80% can be used in some materials. Mixing hemp with PLA to make plastics produces a material that is 100% biodegradable.
Hemp Plastic can be produced in various forms to manufacture:
GPS units
Electrical points
Cookware handles
Railway industry
Water supply materials
Gardening Equipment
Many other household items
In PP reinforced glass-fibre, heat-resistant ABS and PC/ABS applications, hemp is the more cost-effective choice with the added bonus of enhanced material properties. Flame retardant hemp can be produced using far fewer toxic chemicals than are common in the plastics industry. Some types of hemp plastic can now be made from rice starch with research into blow-moulding currently at a high level. Once perfected, this would allow the use of hemp plastic in the manufacture of plastic bottles and bags. This type of plastics production is usually based on corn starch.
The granular form of hemp plastic has only been available in recent times, with rapid growth now expected in the hemp plastics industry - especially as oil prices keep rising and reserves keep reducing - hemp can be produced sustainably and at a stable cost. Agreements on CO2 reduction by governments globally plus the move towards a non-reliance on oil makes hemp a clear choice for plastics manufacturers of the future.
Hemp plastic products can be made using the same injection moulding machinery as with conventional plastics. Visit the website below to see a didgeridoo made from 100% hemp! Extremely strong, this material is made entirely without resins or glues. The full range of applications for these patented plastics has not yet been found, with ideas for new products arising every day. In years to come you may be driving cars that possess strength previously unknown, similar to the model-T that Henry Ford used as a demonstration in the early 20th century.