SABIC, Kringlan Composites and other industry partners are working to further advance the development of the world’s first thermoplastic composite wheel. This ground breaking innovation leverages SABIC’s proprietary ULTEM resin and Kringlan’s proprietary 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 across industries from aerospace to automotive, and consumer goods.
“This ongoing collaboration with Kringlan is an excellent example of how we identify innovative companies with unique technology to collaborate on developing industry for the benefit of the downstream industries that we serve,” said Thierry Materne, Vice President, Technology & Innovation for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business. He adds that compared to other thermoplastic materials, ULTEM offers superior strength at high temperatures, dimensional stability and chemical resistance.
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 will be strong, light, stunning in design and offers a more sustainable solution through . 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 composites, potentially enabling even greater weight savings. Kringlan CEO Steffan Heinecke noted, “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.” He also asserted, “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.”
One example given is consumer appliances, where OEMs are focused on designing 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, to help reduce the amount of energy used during operation and contribute to the 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.
“We are very excited about our on-going collaborative work with Kringlan,” added Materne. “We share with them a passion to constantly drive innovation in thermoplastic applications.”
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Cooperative effort will focus on Kringlan's thermoplastic automotive wheel, which offers 30 to 40 percent weight savings compared to aluminum competitors.