Sabic, Kringlan Composites (Otelfingen, Switzerland) and other industry partners are working to further advance the development of the world's first thermoplastic composite wheel. The wheel leverages the properties of Sabic's polyetherimide (PEI) resin and Kringlan's three-dimensional composite design capabilities to create a material solution that can be used to replace heavier traditional materials, such as metal and aluminum alloy.
"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," says Thierry Materne, Vice President, Technology & Innovation for Sabic's Innovative Plastics business.
|Thermoplastic composite wheel technology also has potential in the appliance sector.|
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.
"This new material technology resulting from the ongoing collaboration between Kringlan and Sabic has the potential to be a breakthrough for OEMs in multiple industries," says Steffen Heinecke, CEO of Kringlan. "Already, in the automotive industry alone, several OEMs have shown interest in the carbon composite wheel application, which can enable the reduction of CO2 from a passenger car by two to three percent."
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 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.