Organic sheet is a textile-based composite plastic that can be formed under the application of heat in a similar way to sheet metal. It consists of a fiber fabric embedded in a thermoplastic matrix. For the fiber material, finite raw materials such as glass, aramid or carbon are usually utilized. At the Fraunhofer WKI, we have for some time been developing organic sheets for various applications. These sheets are based on natural fibers such as flax or hemp, as well as recycled fibers. In addition to sustainable textile semi-finished products, we are increasingly using recycled or bio-based plastics for the matrix, for example from sugar cane, corn starch or lactic acid.
For the innovative seat shell, we are working in collaboration with designer Jonathan Radetz to make targeted use of the properties of the two components of the organic sheet. Together, the plastic matrix and fabric serve as a load-bearing structure, thereby providing the necessary support. By embedding the fabric in the matrix, it simultaneously receives a protective impregnation. In the same process step, the impregnation is omitted in the area of the seating surface and the fabric is backfilled. The result is an organic sheet with partial padding. In the next step, we process this into a seat shell with the aid of a mold.
A particular challenge is presented by the utilization of discarded and recycled textiles, as the exact composition of such textiles can only be determined to a limited extent. Consequently, it is difficult to predict and specifically influence the compatibility between fiber and matrix. In the project, we are pursuing various approaches in order to make used textiles nevertheless usable for the production of furniture made from organic sheet.