Materials firm Solvay SA is working with composites maker 3A Composites to produce specialty foam materials for advanced transportation uses.
The alliance will result in 3A adding additional foam extrusion capacity in the U.S. That new capacity is expected to come onstream in 2016, officials with both firms said in a March 10 news release.
A 3A spokesman said the expansion will be at a plant in the northeastern United States and will create about 10 new jobs. Further details were unavailable.
The aim of the partnership between Brussels-based Solvay and 3A of Horgen, Switzerland, is to make tailored, cost-effective substitutes to traditional materials in order to reduce weight, they added.
Initial products will build on Solvay's Radel-brand polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) foam and “sandwich” materials, which already are in use on Airbus A350 planes and on the Solar Impulse experimental aircraft.
The Solar Impulse began its around-the-world journey March 1 in Abu Dhabi and is slated to spend the next five months circling the globe.
The material will go far beyond that one solar-powered plane, however.
Commercial aircraft and high-speed trains are looking to replace heavier plastics and metal structures with specialty foams, officials said. Lightweighting applications for the Solvay-3A partnership include cabin parts, ducting and trolleys.
The alliance “is a game-changer in making high-tech foams available on a large scale,” Solvay global aerospace and composites business development manager Armin Klesing said in the release. New materials will allow parts makers both insulation performance and fire resistance, he added.
“Our teaming with Solvay creates a technology leader in the high-end segment of lightweighting with foam,” 3A CEO Roman Thomassin said in the release.
Solvay employs 26,000 worldwide and posted global sales of more than $12 billion in 2014. 3A employs 2,500 and is a unit of Horgen-based Schweiter Technologies. 3A previously operated as Alcan Composites.