Canterbury students invent new materials from flax and cabbage tree leaves
Sustainable materials made from cabbage tree leaves and flax could soon be used to build high-performance skis and skateboards in Christchurch.
KiwiFibre Innovations Ben Scales and William Murrell pictured with their first working prototype – a harakeke biocomposite skateboard made from recycled polylactic acid derived from corn starch and harakeke fibre.
Scales, 21, is studying towards a Bachelor of Product Design and Bachelor of Commerce, and Murrell, 20, is a Bachelor of Product Design student.
After experimenting in the garages of their student flats the pair have developed new natural composite materials using New Zealand ti kōuka (cabbage tree) and harakeke (flax).
Their plan is to use these materials to create recreational products such as skis, snowboards, kayaks and skateboards, which are currently manufactured from fibreglass and carbon fibre.
They have just finished their first working prototype, a harakeke biocomposite skateboard made from recycled polylactic acid (PLA) derived from corn starch and harakeke fibre, and they hope to have other prototypes under way next year.