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DSM launches solutions in advanced thermoplastic composites for lighter and more sustainable automotive applications

Singapore, SG, 10 Sep 2013 11:00 CEST

Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, is launching a custom-made solution for structural and semi-structural applications, incorporating various types of continuous fiber reinforcements embedded in its advanced polyamides. Together with several industry partners, DSM has developed advanced thermoplastic composites, which are initially aimed at the automotive industry.

Car makers around the world continue to improve the fuel efficiency and sustainability of their products,” says Rein Borggreve, Global Research and Technology Director at DSM. “Over the years, thermoplastics have provided various solutions, in the form of lightweight components and systems in the passenger compartment, in bodywork, and under the hood. DSM materials have proven important in making this trend to replace metal by plastics possible, in such applications as the air bag system and the oil sump. Now it’s time for the next step, with advanced thermoplastic composites.”

Composites containing carbon fibers, based on DSM’s EcoPaXX® polyamide 410, Akulon® polyamide 6 and Stanyl® polyamide 46, will facilitate significant weight reduction in automobile body and chassis parts, while glass fiber reinforced composites will be targeted at reducing the weight of semi-structural components. In all cases, the weight reduction will result in increased vehicle fuel efficiency and reduced emissions of carbon dioxide.

DSM is a partner in the four-year ENLIGHT project, which also includes car companies Jaguar Cars, Renault, Volkswagen and Volvo. Part of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, ENLIGHT aims to accelerate the technological development of a portfolio of materials, which together offer a strong potential to reduce weight and overall carbon footprint in medium-to-high volume electric vehicles (EVs) that could reach the market between 2020 and 2025.

ENLIGHT will act as an open innovation platform, through the collaboration of EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D), CLEPA (the European Association of Automotive Suppliers) and EARPA (the European Automotive Research Partners Association), integrating valuable insights from other EU research projects with a holistic design approach.

DSM also shows its strong commitment to the development of advanced thermoplastic composites by being one of the founding partners in AZL, the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production. DSM is one of the 33 companies supporting AZL, along with suppliers Ashland and car manufacturers Opel and Toyota.

The aim of AZL is to develop automated production of load‐ and cost‐optimized lightweight components, suitable for mass production and versatile process chains in composite and multi‐material design.

DSM has made a strong commitment to sustainability, and we believe that together with our technology partners, we have the means to put fine words into practice,” says Borggreve.

At K2013, DSM will showcase two applications in advanced thermoplastic composites. The first is a Type IV full engineering plastic pressure vessel based on a liner in Akulon Fuel Lock and a fiber-reinforced thermoplastic wound tape based on Akulon. This development exhibits significantly reduced weight compared with metal pressure vessels, as well as extremely low permeation.

The second application on the K2013 booth is a concept in-mold-formed housing cover, made in a combination of a continuous glass reinforced EcoPaXX-based composite and an injection molded EcoPaXX compound. Together with one of its processing partners, DSM is exploring applications produced using a hybrid process combining composite thermoforming and injection molding.