TenCate & BASF Sign Thermoplastic Automotive Composites Alliance


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

The main goal of this new 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 emission.

TenCate Cetex fibre reinforced thermoplastic product portfolio is currently used in the aerospace industry 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. Add this to BASF’s links within the automotive industry and the required developments are hoped to be accelerated.

In this new strategic alliance, 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.

Melanie Maas-Brunner, successor to Willy Hoven-Nievelstein and new head of the Engineering Plastics Europe business unit of BASF in Germany explains;

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 fibre 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

AS we know when compared to metal parts, fibre reinforced plastic composites can be between 30 and 50 % lighter. Thermoplastic composites help car manufacturers economise on the fuel consumption of automobiles and enable the industry to cut costs. Due to the ease of thermoplastic processing, these advanced materials will dramatically reduce production cycle times, have no limitations in shelf life and can be recycled. Thus mass production becomes accessible. 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 fibre 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 fibres. In a second step, these semi-finished products can be formed into more complex parts and overmolded by means of injection moulding. This combination results in components that are enhanced by a high degree of functional integration.

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