Since 2013, boat builder Friedrich J. Deimann, founder of Greenboats, has been developing composite materials from sustainable sources with his team. His lightweight materials made from flax are unique worldwide and are used in various applications. One of these is boat building, where Deimann’s developed flax fiber mats are used for both hull construction and interior finishing in panel form.
Natural fibre-reinforced composites (NFC) are comparable to traditional glass fibre-reinforced plastics (GRP) and are now an equivalent substitute. Successful examples include the Flax 27, exhibited at the Boot & Fun event at the end of November in Berlin. Non-structural components from Greenboats are also found in Boris Herrmann’s racing yacht. The materials are also used in wind turbines and caravan construction. However, mass production is still needed for widespread market adoption of sustainable materials.
New partner, new location
After a successful decade of material development, Greenboats is now gearing up for mass production. Just a few months ago, the green Bremen startup secured the French family company Depestele as a partner to directly source roving for their technical fabrics in large quantities from the manufacturer. Further financial support from flax producer Depestele also enables the purchase of a panel production street to press the sustainable composite panels and establish large-scale production. The only thing missing was the production site.
Friedrich Deimann © Kerstin Zillmer
Greenboats has now found it at the Lemwerder location, on the opposite side of the Weser River from Bremen, at the company Fassmer. In the 7,000 m2 hall, the production of ecological composite materials will soon begin on Fassmer’s premises. Fassmer supports the company by gradually expanding the space. The newly acquired press for composite panels is currently being programmed. Greenboats aims to start large-scale production by 2024.
Where the first carbon fiber airplanes from Airbus were once developed, the first sustainable boatbuilding material will soon be produced, opening new possibilities for shipyards to make boats more sustainable. Friedrich Deimann’s vision is coming true at this moment. His foresight in developing new materials is now leading to the desired industrialization of natural fiber-reinforced plastics. Courage and strong partnerships were the ingredients. “With Fassmer by our side, we can achieve our ambitious goals and respond to the growing demand for sustainable products,” says the green pioneer for sustainable materials.
The same spirit
Like Depestele, Fassmer is a family-owned business – in its fourth generation. Why do a startup and a family business fit so well together? Both share a flat hierarchy, enabling fast and bold decision-making. At the same time, Fassmer is one of the leading companies in traditional composite materials for GRP and CFRP (carbon fiber composite) in Europe and wants to renew itself through cooperation with Greenboats.
Depestele provides the basic material © Depestele
Since 1958, Fassmer has specialized in the production of components and systems, serving boat and caravan construction, as well as wind turbine construction. Greenboats is also active in these segments. The composite pioneer wants to support Greenboats in building the infrastructure for laminates for the manufacturing industry. Both companies can now combine their expertise in composite technology and together set new standards in the field of sustainable lightweight components, investing more in sustainable composite materials.
The new panel production facility is designed for the production of laminates from environmentally friendly flax fibers and bio-based resins in dimensions of up to 6 × 2.50 meters. The components are characterized by their low weight and high stiffness. With a content of 40 to 100 percent biological resins, this resource-friendly panel material significantly reduces its carbon footprint. Moreover, it is easier to recycle than GRP because it burns without residue.
The industrialization of NFCs will open new doors for boat building. For the first time, shipyards will be able to use sustainable materials for the interior finishing of their boats. The exciting question arises: Who will be the first?