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Sabic and Kringlan developing a thermoplastic carbon composite wheel

News International-French

16 Jun 2014

This innovation leverages Sabic’s ULTEM resin and Kringlan’s three-dimensional composite design capabilities to create a material solution that can be used to replace traditional materials, such as metal and aluminum alloy, helping reduce weight and emissions and potentially save manufacturing costs.

“Combining Sabic’s high-performance ULTEM resin with Kringlan’s proprietary three-dimensional manufacturing technology for carbon composites offers OEMs the opportunity for reduced weight, lower production costs, as well as material recyclability. When compared to other thermoplastic materials, the ULTEM resin composite concept offers superior strength at high temperatures, dimensional stability as well as resistance to chemicals,” said Thierry Materne, Vice President, Technology & Innovation  for Sabics Innovative Plastics business.

To advance the wheel’s development, Kringlan and Sabic have been working on a prototype for a German automotive manufacturer. This innovative and lightweight wheel is expected to be strong, light, stunning in design. The significant weight savings made possible through Kringlan’s revolutionary wheel design, coupled with the ground-breaking material technology employed, can improve fuel economy. The concept also offers a more sustainable solution. Not only can emissions associated with the vehicle’s use phase be reduced, the wheel can also be manufactured with less environmental impact compared to conventional processes and it offers full system recyclability.

The design of the part also provides the flexibility for the wheel to be mounted with traditional metal spokes, or spokes with carbon fiber-reinforced ULTEM resin composites, potentially enabling even greater weight savings.

The full composite wheel design complies with current standards set for metal wheels by the German testing institute TüV, enhancing the opportunity to work with additional global automotive OEMs for the prototyping of lightweight wheels according to their specific design and specifications.

While the first application of this new technology is being driven in the automotive industry, its potential reach extends to multiple industries where weight reduction is a key driver.

To illustrate this, in consumer appliances, OEMs are focused on designing their products to achieve energy efficiency certifications. With this carbon fiber composite using ULTEM resin, appliance OEMs can replace metal with a lighter and equally strong technology, which can help to reduce the amount of energy used during operation and contribute to the energy efficiency performance required for certification.

In washing machines, for example, this new three-dimensional carbon fiber composite technology can reduce the inertia – the amount of energy needed – to start the machine drum moving, compared to current metal alternatives, which can mean greater efficiency, and potentially a lower carbon footprint for the machine. Additionally, by considering the use of the ULTEM resin-based carbon fiber composites with Kringlan’s manufacturing technology, appliance manufacturers can potentially save costs by reducing the number of secondary operations required to develop key parts.

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