Natural Materials Are the New Job One at Ford

Henry Ford personally demonstrated the strength of a natural fiber-reinforced plastic deck lid in 1940 in this iconic photo.

Henry Ford personally demonstrated the strength of a natural fiber-reinforced plastic deck lid in 1940 in this iconic photo.

(From Design News)

Henry Ford famously unveiled a “Soybean Car” in 1941 at an annual community festival in Dearborn, MI. Fourteen plastic panels strengthened with soy fiber reduced the weight of the car by half. It was never built because focus quickly shifted to military vehicles for WWII.

Today a six-member engineering team at Ford is looking for new applications for soybeans and other sustainable materials in an industry-leading effort to replace hydrocarbon-based materials in applications ranging from seat cushions to bumpers. Dr. Cynthia Flanigan, technical expert in Ford Plastics Research, explains:

Wherever petroleum-based materials exist – in plastic, rubber, foam, film or fabric – we are looking to minimize its proportion and replace it with a sustainable material.

[Continue reading Doug Smock’s article]

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