BASF and SGL Group “successfully” conclude carbon fibre lightweighting research
Chemical giant BASF SE and Germany-based carbon company SGL Group have completed joint research on a new composite material system designed to enhance the cost-effectiveness of manufacturing thermoplastic carbon-fibre composites through procedures (T-RTM: thermoplastic resin transfer molding) and reaction injection molding.
The collaboration dates back to October 2012. “On the basis of the now-complete material research, the transfer of the special systems made from carbon fibres and matrices into specific applications of customers in the automotive industry is now under way,” the companies said in a statement. “The composite is based on a reactive polyamide system and compatible carbon fibres. A carbon-fibre surface – or sizing – specially designed for the matrix system as well as tailored thermoplastic reactive systems mean that lightweight structural components for, say, the automotive industry can now be manufactured quickly and easily.”
As part of its contribution to the project, SGL Group developed a new sizing formulation for the carbon fibres. In addition, special processes for manufacturing carbon-fibre-based textiles such as fabrics and braidings were also developed. BASF’s role was to process SGL Group’s newly developed carbon fibres using the T-RTM technique and to characterize them comprehensively both chemically and mechanically.
“In close collaboration with plant manufacturers as well as tiers and automotive OEMs, we are working on the development of robust polyamid 6 carbon-fibre composite systems,” said Josef R. Wünsch, head of Structural Materials and Systems Research at BASF. “The mechanical characteristic values arising from the interaction of the fiber and matrix are crucial input parameters for our simulation tool Ultrasim. We are currently working intensively on enhancing our simulation expertise for reactive systems so that we can provide our customers with expert support for part design and optimization.”
Thermoplastics-based carbon-fibre composites combine the properties of carbon fibres such as high rigidity and low weight with the familiar processing advantages of thermoplastics, the companies said in their statement, allowing them to be formed, recycled and welded. “This helps make carbon fibre technology an even more viable proposition for large-scale production in a number of different applications,” they said.