SABIC, Kringlan Composites and other industry partners are working to further advance the development of the world’s first thermoplastic composite wheel.
This ground breaking innovation leverages SABIC’s proprietary ULTEM resin and Kringlan’s three-dimensional composite design capabilities to create a material solution that the companies say can be used to replace traditional materials, such as metal and aluminum alloy, helping reduce weight and emissions and potentially save manufacturing costs across industries from aerospace to automotive, and consumer goods.
“This ongoing collaboration with Kringlan is an excellent example of how we identify innovative companies with unique technology to collaborate on developing industry for the benefit of the downstream industries that we serve,” said Thierry Materne, Vice President, Technology and Innovation for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business.
“Combining SABIC’s high-performance ULTEM resin with Kringlan’s proprietary three-dimensional manufacturing technology for carbon composites offers OEMs the opportunity for reduced weight, lower production costs, as well as material recyclability. When compared to other thermoplastic materials, the ULTEM resin composite concept offers superior strength at high temperatures, dimensional stability as well as resistance to chemicals,” added Materne.
To advance the wheel’s development, Kringlan and SABIC have been working on a prototype for a German automotive manufacturer. The companies say this “innovative and lightweight” wheel will be “strong, light, stunning in design”. The significant weight savings made possible through Kringlan’s revolutionary wheel design, coupled with the ground-breaking material technology employed, can improve fuel economy. The concept also offers a more sustainable solution, with the companies suggesting that not only can emissions associated with the vehicle’s use phase be reduced, the wheel can also be manufactured with less environmental impact compared to conventional processes and it offers full system recyclability.
The full composite wheel design complies with current standards set for metal wheels by the German testing institute TüV, enhancing the opportunity to work with additional global automotive OEMs for the prototyping of lightweight wheels according to their specific design and specifications.
“This new material technology resulting from the ongoing collaboration between Kringlan and SABIC has the potential to be a breakthrough for OEMs in multiple industries,” said Steffen Heinecke, CEO of Kringlan. “SABIC’s support is critical to the success of this project. In addition to their world-class material technology, they provide application and secondary operation expertise. Already, in the automotive industry alone, several OEMs have shown interest in the carbon composite wheel application, which can enable the reduction of CO2 from a passenger car by two to three percent.”
While the first application of this new technology is being driven in the automotive industry, its potential reach extends to multiple industries where weight reduction is a key driver.
To illustrate this, in consumer appliances, OEMs are focused on designing their products to achieve energy efficiency certifications. With this carbon fiber composite using ULTEM resin, appliance OEMs can replace metal with a lighter and equally strong technology, which can help to reduce the amount of energy used during operation and contribute to the energy efficiency performance required for certification.