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ARRK and Mitsui Chemicals: Composite Solutions

  • Wednesday, 17th July 2019
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  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

The use of thermoplastic matrix systems for composite solutions is growing in popularity in many markets. 

The automotive industry has many requirements for the strategic use of these materials: complex geometries, high strength, stiffness, and low component weight. 

Mitsui Chemicals and ARRK as part of the Mitsui Chemicals Group work together on the development, manufacture and elaboration of applications of these materials for the automotive industry. With extensive knowledge on the starting materials and long experience in the product development process, the two companies pool their expertise for the optimum use of fibre-reinforced thermoplastics in vehicles. At the Composites Europe 2019 trade show, interested visitors can learn about the process for material development to small-series production, and get detailed information on the use of innovative materials such as unidirectional (UD) tapes for demanding components with high functional integration. 

With the ongoing trend to lightweight construction, the automotive industry is increasingly an innovation driver behind new developments and alternative solution approaches in fibre-reinforced synthetics. The requirements of individual OEMS are as varied as the composite materials themselves, making the practiced handling of these materials a key qualification for series maturity. The combination of individual, integration-oriented product engineering, the construction of well-designed tools and flexible small-series production brings high added value in the use of fibre composite materials. New thermoplastic-based composite materials can offer alternative solutions in other engineering fields as well, such as apparatus engineering or aviation.  

Linkage of Composites, Engineering, Tooling and LVP  

The use of thermoplastic matrices for composite solutions is growing in popularity in many markets. Material developments in the field of thermoplastic composites, especially with carbon fibres (CFRTP), are therefore concentrated on polar matrices like polyamides, while non-polar polyolefin-based CFRTPs (such as polypropylenes) are less widely used. Yet PP-based CFRTPs offer huge potential for contributing to the production of an economical, high-performance lightweight composite material, since the combination of carbon fibres and polypropylene (CF-PP) offers lower density and higher stiffness while reducing weight, is easier to process for further working steps, and is extremely resistant to water absorption and hydrolysis. 

However, such new developments often have a hard time replacing established materials, since a new composite material with outstanding material test results still does not guarantee a safe process chain, regardless of how innovative it is. Therefore, in their collaboration, Mitsui Chemicals and ARRK are focusing on the practical usability of new composite types. In addition to experience with long-fibre reinforced thermoplastics, as a material expert, Mitsui Chemicals produces and develops unidirectional reinforced thermoplastic tapes based on CF-PP, with specially developed fibre adhesion and modified PP matrix (TAFNEX CF-PP UD), thus delivering the semi-finished material for the development of innovative components. 

With the assistance of the ARRK Group, customers can get design, analysis, prototyping, toolmaking and even small-series production from a single source. The company group specialises in all services relating to product development. Synergies from the collaboration of the two companies offer many ways to implement all-in solutions for the entire product development process in the mobility industry. 

Innovative materials can bring improved product characteristics, but must prove their viability at the other points in the process chain, and integrate in all production steps without problems. Even if a composite material provides certain desirable properties, this does not mean that the mechanical strength, stability and processing characteristics are sufficient for mould making and component manufacture. 

Thus, the use of newly developed composites is a problem for many automotive manufacturers, since in-house infrastructures do not always allow detailed engineering across the entire process chain. In ARRK Group and Mitsui Chemicals cooperation projects, engineering starts in the development phase. A deep understanding of the process chain ensures success in accomplishing new tasks.

At Composites Europe, Mr. Bauer and Mr. Karatzias, together with their project team, will be happy to talk to you and provide more information at Hall 7, Booth D26. 


Image provided by ARRK Engineering


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