Natural fibers have received attention in recent years because of their minimal environmental impact, reasonably good properties, and low cost. There is a wide variety of natural fibers suitable for composite applications, the most common of which is flax. Flax has advantages in tensile strength, light weight, and low cost over other natural fibers. As with other natural and synthetic fibers, flax is used to reinforce both thermoset and thermoplastic matrices. When flax is used in thermoplastic matrices, polypropylene and polyethylene are the main resins used. Although at first glance flax may seem to be a cheaper alternative to fiberglass, this may not necessarily be as advantageous as one would hope. A full economic valuation should be based on raw material costs and full processing costs. Although flax fibers used in composites are generally a waste product from linen flax, they require additional processing which can significantly reduce flax's economic advantage over glass. This paper attempts to place some measure of economic comparison coupled with property comparisons between natural (mainly flax) fibers and glass fibers. Our tests compare tensile, flexural, and drop impact properties, as well as heat sensitivity, and colorant acceptance.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Justin Zsiros, natural fiber, flax, composite, thermoplastic, fiberglass

Technology Emphasis

Manufacturing Systems (MS)