Two of the most high-profile names in carbon-fiber production for transportation are collaborating on a project to develop recycling for the composite.
Part of the agreement between Boeing Co. and BMW AG calls for the companies to share carbon-fiber manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation, BMW said in a Dec. 12 news release.
The collaboration, signed in Boeing's home city of Seattle, is a first for the two companies in the history of either one, according to BMW.
Boeing uses carbon fiber extensively in its new 787 Dreamliner, with 50 percent of the jet made from the composite. BMW, based in Munich, has been using carbon fiber in production cars for more than 10 years. In 2013 it will begin selling its carbon-fiber-bodied i3 car with its i8 sedan to follow shortly after that.
“Through this cooperation, we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions,” said Herbert Diess, a member of the BMW board for development, in the release.
The collaboration agreement will focus on recycling the material both during production and at the products' end of life.
Boeing's Larry Schneider, vice president of product development, said the firms will look for ways to reclaim and reuse carbon fiber for new manufacturing.
SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, a joint venture between BMW and SGL Group in Moses Lake, Wash., produces carbon fibers exclusively for BMW's use.
BMW also has its own in-house facility in Wackersdorf, Germany, to make carbon fibers into fabrics, which are then processed at its plant in Landshut, Germany, to make composite body components.