Exploring New Materials

Exploring New Materials

At the 2010 A Better World by Design conference, an annual event organized by RISD and Brown students, Industrial Design Professor Seth Stem led a workshop in Natural Fiber Composites for a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people packed into the ID Gallery. The workshop was geared towards assessing the value of such composites for various design disciplines. Sponsored by BASF, one of the world’s leading chemical companies, it included industry representatives from Ahlstrom, BASF, Bast Fibers, Hooper Associates, Indyco and PlastiSource who discussed materials and innovative methods of producing environmentally friendly natural and bio-synthetic composites.

“These materials present enormous design opportunities due to their versatility,” Stem pointed out. “Some of the fibers have very high tensile strength similar to fiberglass and carbon fiber.”

Ahlstrom demonstrated the properties of non-woven natural fibers and showcased how these materials can be impregnated with new liquid acrylic copolymers calledAcrodur® developed by BASF. This process yields a rigid, strong, waterproof and non-toxic product in both its manufacturing process and end state. In addition to developing chemicals, plastics and agricultural products that incorporate its oil and gas portfolio, BASF is known for its commitment to finding intelligent solutions to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility.

Approximately 1,000 students, design professionals, engineers and industry representatives attended the three-day A Better World by Design conference, which is organized in part to explore cleaner manufacturing processes that produce more sustainable, environmentally friendly products.

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