Thermoplastic carbon wheel

World’s first thermoplastic carbon composite wheel

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  • SABIC & Kringlan Composite cooperate to develop thermoplastic automotive wheel
  • Based on PEI material & three-dimensional manufacturing technology
  • 2-3% CO2 reduction in passenger cars possible

The companies SABIC and Kringlan Composites cooperate to further develop the world’s first thermoplastic composite wheel. The wheel is based on SABIC’s ULTEM resin, an amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI), and Kringlan’s proprietary three-dimensional manufacturing technology for carbon composites. This material solution offers OEMs the opportunity to reduce weight, save manufacturing costs across industries from aerospace to automotive, and and can be used to replace traditional materials, such as metal and aluminum alloy. In addition it is recycable. When compared to other thermoplastic materials, the ULTEM resin composite offers superior strength at high temperatures, dimensional stability as well as resistance to chemicals. The design of the part also provides the flexibility for the wheel to be mounted with traditional metal spokes, or spokes with carbon fiber-reinforced ULTEM resin composites, potentially enabling even greater weight savings.

Kringlan and SABIC have been working on a prototype for a German automotive manufacturer. 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. 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, according to SABIC.

While the first application of this new technology is being driven by the automotive industry, its potential reach extends to other industries where weight reduction is a key driver. In washing machines, for example, this new three-dimensional carbon fiber composite technology can reduce the inertia, the amount of energy needed, to start the machine drum moving, compared to current metal alternatives, which means higher efficiency, and potentially a lower carbon footprint for the machine. Additionally, by considering the use of the ULTEM resin-based carbon fiber composites with Kringlan’s manufacturing technology, appliance manufacturers can potentially save costs by reducing the number of secondary operations required to develop key parts.

 Picture: The thermoplastic carbon composite wheel offers a high strength, lightweight solution (source: SABIC)

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