PlastiComp Inc. (Winona, Minn., USA) reported on Sept. 30 that it has signed a partnership agreement with Royal DSM (Heerlen, The Netherlands) to develop bio-based long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) composite materials for the automotive and other performance-driven markets.
Central to this partnership is DSM’s commitment to sustainability—in this case with its EcoPaXX polyamide 410, 70 percent derived from renewable resources—and PlastiComp’s expertise in LFT composites design and manufacturing. Initial compounding, molding and testing of carbon-fiber reinforced EcoPaXX was successful in establishing benchmark composites for high-temperature (up to 200°C/93°F) and structural applications.
The LFT composites PlastiComp is co-developing with DSM—which include compounds reinforced with glass fiber as well as carbon fiber—have an excellent life cycle analysis (LCA) score, thanks to the carbon-neutral, cradle-to-gate footprint of the EcoPaXX polymer. These composites are well suited to weight optimization efforts in the automotive industry for fuel savings and reduced emissions.
The two partner companies will also collaborate with potential customers to design injection-molded composite parts. They will employ computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to ensure optimized fiber architecture to meet stringent requirements for dimensional tolerances, surface finish and high-temperature properties.
While the principal focus of the partnership is on automotive applications, composites that DSM and PlastiComp are developing are also attractive in other metal-replacement applications. Grades can, for example, leverage material characteristics such as electro-magnetic interference (EMI) shielding for electronics, and radiolucency in x-ray applications, thereby enhancing the value of light-weight, high-performance, metal substitutes.