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TenCate, BASF Partner To Develop Thermoplastic Automotive Composites

TenCate Advanced Composites — a business of the Netherlands-based functional textile materials developer and manufacturer Royal Ten Cate — and BASF SE — a Germany-based chemical conglomerate — have formed a strategic alliance under which they will develop, manufacture and commercialize thermoplastic composite materials for automotive mass production applications.

The companies plan to provide custom-engineered solutions for high-performance fiber-reinforced plastic composite structures that will enable further weight reductions in automobiles and thereby also reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Such materials can offer weight reductions from 30 to 50 percent compared with metal structures; and their ease of processing enables a significant reduction in production cycle times. They also have an unlimited shelf life and can be recycled.

Materials to be developed include composite unidirectional tapes, prepregs and laminates based on special variants of BASF's Ultramid® polyamide, Ultradur® polybutylene terephthalate and Ultrason® polyethersulfone thermoplastic resin systems; and TenCate's TenCate Cetex® laminate and prepreg technology. Potential end-use applications include semi-structural parts and primary structures in automobile bodies and chassis.

"The next major advance in lightweight automotive constructions will not be possible without a dramatic reduction in processing costs," said Melanie Maas-Brunner, head of BASF's Engineering Plastics Europe business unit. "This can be accomplished by using continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites. The breakthrough for composites to mass production, however, has not yet been made. By working together with TenCate, we intend to jointly achieve this breakthrough."

"TenCate Cetex® laminates and prepregs have long been applied in commercial aircraft constructions, and are increasingly used in industrial manufacturing processes," said Frank Meurs, group director, TenCate Advanced Composites EMEA. "Now, TenCate intends to expand its activities in the automotive industry. We are looking forward to this joint effort in making new materials rapidly available for automotive mass production."

October 30, 2012