Heartland Industries Will Replace Glass Fibers in Plastics with Hemp Fibers to Reduce Cost & Weight

October 14th, 2020 – Glass is one of the most common additives for plastics because it increases strength, durability, and performance. Because of its availability, glass is the most commonly used fiber in fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP). A glass fiber mixed with a plastic is commonly referred to as ‘fiberglass’. This type of composite is typically used in use cases for mobility (cars, boats, planes, rockets, etc).

Companies who produce moving vehicles are always looking for new ways to reduce cost and weight. The way that they’re doing this is through the additives that they’re using in the plastic and metal components of the products they’re manufacturing. As the FRP industry has evolved, there have been various segments that have come about. One of these segments is Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP), which has traditionally produced stronger, lighter and cheaper products. This, along with a seemingly unlimited supply, has created wide-spread adoption across markets.

Companies such as Ford utilize these materials to ensure the highest safety standards while adding strength and lowering weight compared to unreinforced plastics and metals. Even with all the added benefits, Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP) has many downsides that manufacturers tend to overlook. Because glass is synthesized from petroleum, there are significant environmental consequences and bottlenecks related to the production and distribution of glass fibers. 

The world is searching for an additive in manufacturing that creates stronger, lighter, cheaper, and more eco-friendly products. Over generations, hemp fibers have been proven to be a superior replacement to glass fibers.

  1. Strength Increases – Hemp fibers have a stronger tensile strength than glass fibers, allowing manufacturers to use less product to accomplish the same results.
  2. Weight Reduction – Hemp fibers have a lower molecular weight than glass fibers, which means when manufacturers use the same amount of fibers, they can reduce the weight of their end product by up to 44%.
  3. Cost Reduction – Glass fibers come with a hefty price increase over a virgin plastic material with traditional fillers. Hemp fibers reduce the cost of goods sold (COGS) while maintaining superior attributes.
  4. Eco-Friendly – The growing and processing of hemp fibers removes 1.62 tons of carbon from the atmosphere for every 1 ton grown. Glass fibers have a net negative impact on the environment that has been overlooked because of petroleum interests driving its adoption. 

In today’s Ford Explorer, there is 700 pounds of plastic reinforced with glass. This requires a glass fiber supply chain that could easily be replaced with a hemp fiber supply chain. The ability to leverage hemp materials will help to reduce the weight of plastic while maintaining the structural integrity of the end product.

Manufacturers who integrate hemp fibers into their production practices will not require retooling or changes to existing equipment. Since there is not a significant transition for manufacturers, the products of tomorrow can easily integrate newfound competitive advantages. As our world shifts toward a more environmentally friendly future, there will be a separation between manufacturers who leverage eco-friendly supply chains, and manufacturers who don’t. 

As the world begins transitioning to more eco-friendly fuel sources, there will be a corresponding movement toward eco-friendly materials. Heartland will have the only reliable hemp supply chain in America as manufacturers begin to adopt stronger, lighter, cheaper, and more eco-friendly materials.

Ask us about how the product’s you are manufacturing can benefit from hemp-based additives. The future starts right now. 

– Heartland Team

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