NPSP started in 1998 with the production of a catamaran out of flax fibers; the Flax-Cat. Developing an environmentally friendly biobased material and building cool products was the thing that brought four lads together setting up their own innovative company. The catamaran was light and strong and participated in the famous catamaran race: Round Texel Race, world’s biggest cat race. After this kick-start NPSP got to know Dutch Astronomer Wubbo Ockels, who as a professor at Technical University Delft, was setting up an innovation team around the famous World Solar Challenge 2001. NPSP was invited to join and the resulting composite monocoque was being built by NPSP together with several students. The so-called Nuna 1 won the 3000 km race through Australia.
After these two great projects, the focus changed to setting up larger projects, starting our own small factory. Also the market focus changed from ‘Natural Produced Speed Products’ towards products for the design, building and transportation market. In becoming a real factory also conventional glass fiber reinforced composite products had to be manufactured to be able to grow, to show customers that larger projects could be realized and to reach norms and certifications. But the strategy remained on making biobased composites a standard product being usable for large scale leading customers.
Products that have been realized in the past two decades range from bicycle route signs for the Dutch Government, design chairs for Dutch A-brand furniture manufacturer Pastoe, the noses of al Intercity ‘Koploper’ trains, and a large diversity of street furniture and worlds first biobased composite facade. All of these applications made NPSP the most innovative and sustainable company in the rubber and plastics industry in the Netherlands in 2011.
Between 2003 and 2014 NPSP grew to more than 25 fte staff, but because of the economic crises the founders of NPSP realized that A) they were deviating from their strategy realizing a biobased society and B) they were becoming a more standard production company. In 2014 they decided to sell production facilities and start to focus purely on development and sales of biobased materials and products.
Since then three basic biobased and circular materials have been developed: Nabasco 5010, the high-end long natural fiber reinforced composite material for light and stiff applications, the Nabasco 8010, a low-cost biobased material based on waste CaCO3 from drinking water companies, waste reed and a biobased resin based on waste of biofuel industry, and the Nabasco 9010, a medium length natural fiber reinforced PLA material. Examples of Nabasco 8010 are the traffic signs and design benches now being introduced on the market in 2020. Examples of Nabasco 9010 are indoor acoustic panels and a design lamp, being introduced in the market in 2020 as well.
With an example of Nabasco 5010, the van-eko scooter, NPSP is participating in the SSUCHY project. The scooter frame is the carrying structure of the scooter, one hollow monocoque of flax and hemp reinforced biocomposite material. In contrary to the conventional steel scooter frame with 120 plastics parts, screws, etc, etc. the monocoque is one solid element, being very stiff and large enough to store the battery pack.
The great opportunity of the SSUCHY project for us is that the crème-de-la-crème of European Research Groups on biobased composites is working on bringing the whole value chain together; from agriculture via resin development, preforming of textiles to end of life specialists. All are within the project focusing on realizing as much added values as possible, such as mechanical properties over density, sound and vibration absorbing qualities, while minimizing life cycle impact and costs. Realizing these added values are a major driving force towards success for our commercial products.
When starting in 1998 NPSP was way ahead of society and markets and commercial success was limited, but now climate change urges Europe, its governments, its companies and its civilians, to really do something. NPSP, together with its SSUCHY-partners, can now reap the benefits from what started more than twenty years ago. Surfing the wave to commercial success for biobased and circular high-end materials and products, and by doing so creating a large sustainability impact as well.