Ford Investigates Making Parts Using Sisal – Renewable Material Source Found in Dartboards, Rope and Carpets
- Ford looks into making vehicle parts using sisal – a natural fibre found in dartboards, rope, carpets and scratching posts for cats
- Ford has already pioneered an injection moulding technique to combine ecologically-friendly fibres in plastic parts; currently investigating a 30 percent hemp or sisal content that can achieve up to 10 percent weight reduction in part
- Ford’s roots in renewable materials go back almost 100 years to the 1915 Model T; all-new Ford B-MAX is the latest to benefit from natural fibres.
AACHEN, Germany, June 20, 2012 – Ford of Europe engineers are investigating making car parts using sustainable fibres from sisal, a plant more frequently used in dartboards, carpets and rope.
“Sisal is of major economic importance to some developing countries and communities; it’s a perennial agave plant that thrives on marginal land in hot and arid conditions and its use has far-reaching social benefits”, said Maira Magnani, advanced materials expert, Ford of Europe.
Renewable fibres like kenaf, flax, hemp and wood fibres are currently most commonly used in door trim inserts, with Ford’s all-new B-MAX the latest model to benefit. Manufactured using a press-moulding process, up to 50 percent of the content in B-MAX’s door inserts are flax fibres.
But it’s an injection moulding technique that Ford first pioneered with the inclusion of wheat straw in interior parts, which is now being considered for sisal, and even hemp, inclusion. This method allows increasingly complex components such as battery trays and engine junction box covers to be made.
As well as reducing component weight, the temperatures needed to produce these parts are 40 degrees lower than conventional plastic parts.
Ford’s history of using fibres from materials including: kenaf, flax and wood, dates back as far as 20 years while its use of renewable materials dates back to 1915 when wheat-based glue, soybean wool and soybean were used in the Model T.
“The use of renewable and sustainable materials in our vehicle parts reduces the use of fossil-oil-based product and in turn reduces dependency on finite sources” added Magnani.
“As the oil for producing plastics becomes more scarce and more expensive, it’s likely that the interest in using renewable materials will grow, but we’re aiming to stay ahead of the game now.”
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.