Flax fiber skis and snowboards hit the slopes

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In the United Kingdom, flax fibers are becoming more prevalent as part of the layers in skis and snowboards as a biobased alternative. While early skis were made from wood, modern skis and snowboards are increasingly made of composites and layers with a variety of materials, typically made with plastic, carbon, or glass fibers. However, many of those materials are not sustainable or biodegradable, so flax fibers is a greener option while also having some technical advantages over glass and carbon fibers, according to Paul Sherratt of the Sports Technology Institute at Loughborough University.

“Flax is much better at dampening, so it helps reduce vibrations and improves the feel of products, which is an incredibly complicated area within sport,” Sherratt told Phys.org.

Ignaas Verpoest of the Composite Materials Group at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in Belgium, told Phys.org that “there is a simple reason why vibrations disappear faster: the structure of flax. A carbon or glass fibre is a solid filament, while a flax fibre is a made up of tiny elementary fibres, which dissipate energy and produce fewer vibrations.”

Bcomp is one of the companies that now produces flax fiber fabrics and a range of balsa wood and flax cores for skis and snowboards.