We all know that customizing vehicle interiors involves a delicate balance of form and function – especially when constructing solid structures like dashboards, consoles and speaker cabinets. While the go to material for these types of projects is usually wood or fiberglass, both have serious drawbacks that need to be considered.
Wood is easy to work with, but it often adds unwanted weight. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is light, but can be messy and complicated to use. There is, however, a material that combines the best of both: bamboo.
We’ve profiled automakers, like Rinspeed, who’ve incorporated bamboo into their automotive designs – but more so from a “green” perspective. After all, there’s nothing more Earth-friendly than a plant. But there are other benefits to using bamboo.
Reuters news agency explains: “Not only is bamboo considered a ‘green material’ due to the plants rapid re-growth weight, but bamboo is an ultra light material and surprisingly strong.”
How strong is bamboo?
Greg ‘Gadget’ Abbott of Left Coast Electric, a custom shop that converts vehicles to run on electricity, says that it’s a huge misconception that bamboo is weaker than other materials. He explains that because its wood doesn’t absorb resin, “you can build thicker composites … the strength-to-width ratio is somewhere between carbon fiber and fiberglass”.
In fact, structural engineering tests reveal that bamboo has a higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel, and a higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete. It even has a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite.
Plus it’s incredibly light, which makes it the go-to material for electric car makers and others looking to maximize speed or improve gas mileage.
So why not use bamboo?