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Focal introduces a speaker cone made of flax fibres composites

News International-French

11 Sep 2013

After more than five years of research and development, engineers at Focal can now reveal the Flax cones, a new generation of sandwich cone,  which adds to W and K2 technologies. F cones are made of high-quality flax fibers enclosed by two thin layers of glass fiber.

Made in France, Flax cones are oriented towards acoustic performance, high-tech and give an original design to the brand’s speaker drivers.

F cones are made of high-quality flax fibers core enclosed by two thin layers of glass fiber. They satisfy the key criteria of a high performance diaphragm : high internal damping, high velocity of sound and high flexural rigidity.

All these criteria cannot be met by a mono-material cone. Sandwich technology greatly influences the neutrality of the sound produced by the cone, something, which has always been Focal’s hallmark. The expertise gained from the sandwich technology of the Utopia and K2 Power ranges enabled Focal to develop a revolutionary flax-fiber cone conciliating the 3 criteria.

Flax is twice as light as fiberglass, because the fiber is hollow. It also has very low elasticity which makes it ideal to increase the flexural rigidity of a sandwich structure. Moreover, it can be obtained in non-woven bundles of considerable diameter and it can therefore produce the thickness required for a sandwich.
Internal damping
Composite materials have properties suitable for applications where both rigidity and low mass are required. However, their disadvantage is that they lack damping, which leads to very poor control of vibrations. Recent developments in this field combining composites and natural fibers have brought unexpected opportunities. Flax fiber has an excellent internal damping of the same order of magnitude as the glass or Kevlar fibers or aluminum.

Flax fields
Flax cones are designed and manufactured in France, from french flax fiber.  France is the main cultivator in Europe of fiber flax, principally in Flanders, Picardy, Normandy and the Pas-de-Calais region. French flax is considered the best in the world.

Synthetic fibers or foams originating from petrochemical resources are subject to inflation linked to the sharp rise in crude oil prices. Organic or ecological textiles, like flax, are thus becoming more and more pricecompetitive.

Because the “W” or "K2" sandwich have to be manufactured by hand, their range of application remains limited for reasons of cost. The industrial process developed to manufacture the "F" cones bring it within reach of very pricecompetitive product ranges.

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