This study investigates the influence of the physical structure of flax fibres on the mechanical properties of polypropylene (PP) composites. Due to their composite-like structure, flax fibres have relatively weak lateral bonds which are in particular present in flax fibres that are often used in natural fibre mat reinforced thermoplastics (NMT). These weak bonds can be partly removed by combing the fibres. In order to study the influence of the physical structure of flax fibres on NMT tensile and flexural properties, uncombed and combed flax fibre reinforced PP composites were manufactured via a wet laid process. The influence of improved fibre-matrix adhesion was studied using maleic-anhydride grafted PP. Results indicated that the flax physical structure has a significant effect on flax-PP composite properties and that the flax fibre reinforced PP properties are similar to values predicted with existing micromechanical models. The tensile modulus of flax-PP composites can fairly compete with commercial glass mat reinforced thermoplastic (GMT) modulus, the strength, however, both tensile and flexural, can not. In order to rise the strength of flax fibre reinforced PP composites to the level of GMT strength, the flax fibres have to be further isolated to elementary flax fibres.
van den Oever, M. J. A., Bos, H. L., & van Kemenade, M. J. J. M. (2000). Influence of the physical structure of flax fibres on the mechanical properties of flax fibre reinforced polypropylene composites. Applied Composite Materials, 7(5-6), 387-402. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026594324947