BASF and SGL to develop carbon fibre thermoplastics for automotive applications

The composite is intended for use in the thermoplastic resin transfer moulding (T-RTM) process as well as the reactive injection moulding process. This will permit considerably shorter processing cycles than the conventional thermosetting RTM process.

Faster processing techniques will play a major role in the development of carbon fibre composite composites suitable for into automotive mass production.

BASF, a leading producer of polyamide and caprolactam, a precursor of polyamide, is contributing its competence in the development of new polymer matrix systems. SGL will add its carbon fibre expertise.

"To achieve good wetting of the fibre and short cycle times in T-RTM or reactive injection moulding, we start from low-viscosity highly reactive caprolactam formulations," explains Dr Martin Jung, Head of Structural Materials Research and spokesman for BASF Research for the automotive industry.

In order to attain an optimal bonding of the polyamide to the fibre, the new matrix systems will require a suitable carbon fibre surface treatment (finish) to be developed.

"It is only with a custom-formulated finish that this optimal bonding can form and the carbon fibres transmit their unique stiffness and strength properties fully to the part," says Dr Hubert Jäger, Head of Technology & Innovation, SGL Group.

"On the basis of our many years of industrial experience, we are able to optimise processes and materials along the entire value-added chain of carbon fibre technology for new applications."