TenCate Advanced Composites (Nijverdal, The Netherlands) and Kringlan Composites AG (Otelfingen, Switzerland) reported on Sept. 17 that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in order to develop solutions for part manufacturing on the basis of thermoplastic composite technology.
The current main development initiated by Kringlan Composites has been the design and production of a full carbon fiber-reinforced composite wheel for high-performance cars. TenCate has been involved in the development of the thermoplastic composite material, which has been qualified for this purpose. This development now reaches the final phase in order to enter series production.
The focus will be on high-performance parts that enhance safety and reduce weight. Composite wheels are highly effective to generate weight reduction and reduce fuel consumption. Acceleration of light weight wheels will cost less energy and reduces the CO2 emission of the vehicle.
Kringlan's wheel includes a single-shot rim and a spoke modue that is assembled and bonded separately before integration with the rim. Dr. Niccolò Pini, COO of Kringlan, says his company's manufacturing process is based on press molding and produces one wheel every 10 minutes. He says the wheels offer 30 to 40 percent weight savings compared to aluminum competitors and are in the process of being tested ahead of series production in 2014 for a high-end sports car. The fiber, he says, is Toray's (Tokyo, Japan) T700; the thermoplastic resin (Pini would not identify type) is supplied by SABIC Innovative Plastics (Sittard, The Netherlands).