A whole new racquet for flax
Scion has been stressing, stretching and pounding plant fibres to understand how they respond to repeated pressure. Flax fibres are of interest because overseas manufacturers are using them in combination with resins to make tennis racquets, high-performance bicycles and racing yachts. While carbon fibres have greater strength and stiffness, research undertaken by Scion for the Biopolymer Network shows that plant fibres have other redeeming qualities.
Actions like hitting a ball with a racquet, can place stresses and strains on the material, causing it to debond and eventually break. The result of Scion studies showed that flax and resin remain tightly bound together under repeated stresses of loading and unloading. The flax composite material had excellent dampening properties and retained its strength even after 20,000 load-unload cycles.
This research confirms that flax definitely has potential as a high-perfomance material for a wide range of sporting applications. Results of this study were published in the Journal of Materials Science.