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PlastiComp, based in Minnesota, US, has signed a partnership agreement with Royal DSM to develop bio-based Long Fibre 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% derived from renewable resources—and PlastiComp’s expertise in LFT composites design and manufacturing. Initial compounding, moulding and testing of carbon-fibre reinforced EcoPaXX was successful in establishing benchmark composites for high-temperature (up to 200°C) and structural applications.
The companies say the LFT composites they are co-developing, —which include compounds reinforced with glass fibre as well as carbon fibre, 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 optimisation efforts in the automotive industry for fuel savings and lowered 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 optimised fibre 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 substitutions.
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