BASF & SGL Develop New Carbon Fiber Composites for Automotive Sector

15th October 2012

BASF and the SGL Group have announced that they will jointly develop a composite material based on a reactive polyamide system and carbon fiber, aimed at creating cost-effective thermoplastics for the automotive industry. The material system is intended for use in a Thermoplastic Resin Transfer Molding system (T-RTM) as well as the reactive injection molding process that allows for faster production times compared to conventional thermosetting RTM.

The adjustment of the material system to these faster processing techniques plays a major role for the entry of light and high-strength structural components made of carbon fiber composites into automotive mass production.

As a leading producer of polyamide and caprolactam, a precursor of polyamide, BASF is contributing its competence in the development of new polymer matrix systems. The SGL Group is utilizing its material expertise along the carbon fiber value-added chain and in high-temperature processes.

In order to attain an optimal bonding of the polyamide to the fiber, the new matrix systems require that a suitable carbon fiber surface treatment or ‘finish’, will be developed. Dr. Hubert Jäger, Head of Technology & Innovation, SGL Group: “It is only with a custom-formulated finish that this optimal bonding can form and the carbon fibers transmit their unique stiffness and strength properties fully to the part. On the basis of our many years of industrial experience, we are able to optimize processes and materials along the entire value-added chain of carbon fiber technology for new applications.”

Thermoplastic carbon fiber-reinforced composites combine the properties of carbon fibers such as high stiffness at low weight with the typical processing advantages of thermoplastics. They can be formed, recycled and welded. In this way they encourage further development of carbon fiber technology toward the goal of suitability for mass production.

SGL Group are heavily involved in the development and production of carbon fiber materials for the automotive industry. For example the company is responsible for the supply of all carbon composite materials for the BMW i3 and i8 vehicles. Enlighten recently spoke to Dr Joerg Pohlman the Managing Director of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers about the partnership with BMW and the future outlook for the material in the automotive sector. You can view this discussion below.