The use of natural fibres for components subjected to higher mechanical requirements tends to be limited by the high price of high-quality semi-finished products. Therefore, the present study deals with the development of more cost-effective staple fibre yarns made from flax tow. In the subsequent processing stage, the yarns were processed into quasi-unidirectional (UD) fabrics. The results of the fibre characterisation along the process chain have shown that no significant mechanical fibre damage occurs after slivers' production. Fibres prepared from yarns and fabrics show comparable characteristics. The yarns were processed to composites by pultrusion to verify the reinforcement effect. The mechanical properties were comparable to those of composites made from a high-quality UD flax roving. The fabrics were industrially processed into composite laminates using a vacuum infusion and an autoclave injection process (vacuum injection method in an autoclave). While impact strength compared to a reference laminate based on the UD flax roving was achieved, tensile and flexural properties were not reached. An analysis showed that the staple fibre yarns in the fabric show an undulation, leading to a reorientation of the fibres and lower characteristic values, which show 86-92% of the laminate made from the flax roving. Hybrid laminates with outer glass and inner flax layers were manufactured for the intended development of a leaf spring for the bogie of a narrow-gauge railroad as a demonstrator. The hybrid composites display excellent mechanical properties and showed clear advantages over a pure glass fibre-reinforced composite in lightweight construction potential, particularly flexural stiffness.
Keywords: flax; high-performance composites; leaf spring; mechanical characteristics; staple fibre yarn.