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TenCate and BASF enter strategic alliance for thermoplastic automotive composites for high-volume production

25 October 2012

TenCate Advanced Composites and BASF have entered into a strategic alliance to cooperate on the development, production and commercialization of thermoplastic composite materials suitable for high-volume vehicle production.

The main goal of this partnership is to offer car manufacturers custom-engineered solutions for high-performance composite structures, which enable this industry to further reduce weight and carbon dioxide emissions. The growing need of the automotive industry for composite materials used in mass production calls for a rapid development of materials and manufacturing processes, the partners said.

TenCate Advanced Composites has a leading market position in continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites with the TenCate Cetex product portfolio, currently mainly used for aircraft structures and interiors. At present new aircraft such as the Airbus A380, A350 and Boeing 787 are the main users of such material.

BASF is a leading chemical company with an extensive network in the automotive industry. By combining the capabilities of both BASF and TenCate in automotive composite solutions, the required developments will be accelerated.

BASF will contribute its know-how in the production and formulation of thermoplastic resins in order to develop special variants of its Ultramid (PA), Ultradur (PBT) and Ultrason (PESU) product lines. TenCate Advanced Composites joins in with their expertise in composite manufacturing. Together both companies are dedicated to automotive composite materials (UD-tapes, prepregs and laminates) based on these specialty resin systems.

The next major advance in lightweight automotive constructions will not be possible without a dramatic reduction in processing costs. This can be accomplished by using continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites. The breakthrough for composites to mass production, however, has not yet been made. By working together with TenCate, we intend to jointly achieve this breakthrough.

—Melanie Maas-Brunner, head of the Engineering Plastics Europe business unit of BASF

Compared to metal parts, fiber reinforced plastic composites can be 30–50% lighter. Due to the ease of thermoplastic processing, these advanced materials can reduce production cycle times, have no limitations in shelf life and can be recycled. Much experience has been built up over the last decades in connection with welding technologies to connect composites materials into complex structures and to integrate these components and structural parts into multi-material end-products. Target applications are semi-structural parts as well as primary structures in car bodies and chassis.

Thermoplastic laminates with continuous fiber reinforcement are woven or non-woven fabrics impregnated with resins and formed into sheets, which are extremely light yet very strong. UD-tapes, another product class, make full use of the anisotropic nature of uni-directionally (UD) oriented impregnated fibers. In a second step, these semi-finished products can be formed into more complex parts and overmolded by means of injection molding. This combination results in components that are enhanced by a high degree of functional integration.

TenCate Cetex laminates and prepregs have long been applied in commercial aircraft constructions, and are increasingly used in industrial manufacturing processes. Now, TenCate intends to expand its activities in the automotive industry. We are looking forward to this joint effort in making new materials rapidly available for automotive mass production.<

—Frank Meurs, group director of TenCate Advanced Composites EMEA

TenCate is also a founding member of the European Thermoplastic Automotive Composites consortium (eTAC). (Earlier post.)

October 25, 2012 in Materials, Plastics, Weight reduction | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

This is very pleasant good news for future lighter cars, may they be ICEVs, HEVs, PHEVs or BEVs.

Lighter, longer lasting future cars will consume less energy, create less pollution and eventually have lower life total cost. Electrified vehicles may benefit the most?

Im interrested to buy if it's less costly then conventionnal metals and cheaper and if it don't rust. I won't buy new products if it's not better then what it replace and if it's not cheaper. This might push the price of steel down so it will push the price of that plastic down too. We need some competition in the market with a larger choice of products and technologies.

I would gladly pay more for an extended range (500+ Km) e-vehicle that would last longer than current ICEVs as long as total cost (initial + all ongoing operation cost) are not significantly more. Since our Hydro electricity would (is) be much cheaper per Km than the current ICEVs with $5.30/US Gal gasoline, an extended range EV may win by 2020 or before.

While thermplastics are easily recycled, once you add fibres to them it becomes very difficult or impossible.
The more expensive fibres can be recovered but at this point in time, only with total destruction of the plastic.
Using recycled plastic and producing energy from the separation process (burning or pyrolysis) would help make the process more resource friendly.

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