Inspired by Nature:

Sustainable High-Performance Bio-Composites Capable of Matching the Performance of Aluminum and Glass Fiber

Written by Taylor Jantzi, Communications Coordinator at Global Public Affairs

Strong by Form is revolutionizing lightweight structures with the sustainability of wood and the performance and productivity of composites.

Imagine a future where the body of your car, the structures in your neighbourhood and even boats are made from sustainable, high-performance bio-composites capable of replacing carbon intensive materials like aluminum and glass fibre.  That future just became closer thanks to the revolutionary technology, Woodflow, by Strong by Form, a Chilean company that is supported by ProChile

Woodflow takes inspiration from nature to enable wood-based composites to be used for lightweight and high-performance applications.  In nature, trees are high-performance structures.  They withstand the stresses of natures – such as wind and heavy snowfall – just by having the right form, density and fiber orientation.

Thanks to the right control over the form and material architecture, Woodflow allows Strong by Form to produce stress-tailored structural parts capable of fully taking advantage of wood’s performance, thereby maximising performance with the smallest amount of material.  For example, a 5 millimetre thick, wood composite shell prototype has been optimized to resist over 300 kilograms with minimum deflection, while weighting only 854 grams.

The ultra-light, high-performance structural shell is created through a process that combines materials science, the latest fibre architecture and shape optimization techniques, and digital fabrication.  The technology allows for the elimination of steel joints to create stiffer, lighter structure, made only from wood. 

Making the Impossible Possible with Wood

Woodflow makes it possible to build components, joints and structural typologies with wood that up until now were not possible.  Woodflow is freeform, so it can have variable thicknesses and fuse complex assemblies into single parts.  Freeform structural shell components and multiaxial stiff nodes are some examples of the new possibilities that Woodflow enables.

Woodflow technology is freeform, so it can have variable thicknesses and fuse complex assemblies into single parts

High Performance Structural Solutions for a Sustainable Future

Woodflow is high-performance and sustainable, the product is made using renewably sourced raw material and will be bound with bio-resins to create a product that is entirely environmentally friendly.  Additionally, because it is additive manufacturing-based, the production creates almost zero waste.  And because the production is fully automated from design to manufacturing, Woodflow delivers consistent quality.  It can even be used in place of other lightweight structural materials, like aluminum and glass fiber, that are extremely intensive in CO2 emissions.

One Technology, Many Applications

The applications of Woodflow are endless.  Strong by Form can help create a truly sustainable transportation alternative by providing vehicle companies with lightweight and high-performance body parts made from Woodflow technology.

Woodflow can also be applied to create sustainable alternatives for lightweight construction, freeform concrete formwork, maritime structures, furniture structures and anything you can imagine.  

Lightweight and high-performing vehicle body parts

The Brains Behind the Technology

The team is formed by engineer Andrés Mitnik and architects Daniel Ortiz and Jorge Christie, all of whom met in school and reunited five years ago when Christie decided the three of them should form a company.  Taking inspiration from trees, Christie developed a software solution that was able to optimize material to be as light as possible, while also being as strong as possible.  Meanwhile, Ortiz started creating the machinery necessary to manufacture Christie’s invention so that it could be scaled, and Mitnik used his expertise in business development and venture capitals to put together the startup.

In 2019, the trio showed their first prototype at the Wood Startup Challenge organized by Corma, a club of forestry firms, and won first place.  Their entry caught the eye of CMPC Ventures’ innovation manager, Felipe Alcade, who was setting up a venture capital and was interested in their proposal.  By the end of 2020, they secured an investment from CMPC Ventures and won Chile´s Startup of the year award.  More recently, they closed a round with angel investors reaching $650,000 USD. 

The Strong by Form team: Jorge Christie, Andrés Mitnik and Daniel Ortiz

In April 2021, Strong by Form attended Collision Conference as one of the 20 companies supported by ProChile.  At the conference, they were named one of Collision Conference’s 2021 Impact Startups, which names startups from around the world that are working to have a positive impact on their communities, industries and ecosystems.  This recognition means they were selected for the innovation they showed in following the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

Inspired by Nature: Sustainable High-Performance Bio-Composites Capable of Matching the Performance of Aluminum and Glass Fiber

About Strong by Form

Strong by Form creates sustainable lightweight structural solutions that fuse the sustainability of wood with the performance and productivity of composites.

The company’s Woodflow technology is disrupting lightweight construction and helping diverse industries move towards a more sustainable future.  Other lightweight construction materials, including aluminum and glass fibre are extremely intensive in CO2 emissions.  Woodflow is a sustainable alternative to these materials by emulating trees’ structural efficiency.  The technology combines the latest optimization tools with a novel additive manufacturing process to produce sustainable timber-based composite structures capable of matching the performance of aluminum or reinforced plastics.  Woodflow is also freeform so it can have variable thicknesses and fuse complex assemblies into single parts. It can be used for structures for mobility (chassis or other body parts), construction, furniture and many other applications.