2004 Volume 47 Issue 4 Pages 533-540
Technical products introduced onto the market are more and more judged for more than a single quality. For example functionality is judged in relation to (lifetime-) cost, or in relation to mass, a measure for user friendliness or for environmental impact. This growing customer awareness to get more intrinsic qualities for money is causing a tremendous change in the development and design strategy of materials and structures, especially when applied in mass sensitive products, like transport vehicles in general and products which are being moved or carried permanently (machine parts, packaging and portable consumer goods). To identify a possible role for (bamboo) fibre-reinforced materials in mass sensitive products, the most trivial example, namely means of transport, is taken as subject to identify and to discuss the mass sensitive parameters which are determinant for the success of future transport systems (drag per unit weight and empty weight vs. payload) in a generic way. Finally the chances for bamboo fibres or better bamboo fibrils are brought into perspective to compete E-glass fibres in lightweight constructions, considering the specific mechanical performance in relation to the possible reinforcement morphology and to the available manufacturing techniques. The results are very surprising and promising for bamboo macro fibrils. Based on the available mechanical data, bamboo fibrils have the potential to surpass E-glass as a reinforcement for short fibre reinforced polymer composite structural elements like solid plates, shells and beams which are or dominated by or critical for buckling and bending.