Covestro AG has strengthened its offerings and capabilities in continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composites in response to market trends and growing demand.
The company has commissioned a new tape line for the composites at its Leverkusen laboratory, where it will be developing new products with different fiber and resin combinations, the German specialty chemicals company announced July 23.
Covestro supplies Maezio-branded CFRTP composites based on continuous carbon fibers impregnated with thermoplastics like polycarbonates.
Once developed in the laboratory, production of the composites will be scaled and commercialized at Covestro’s production site in Markt Bibart in South Germany.
“We’re witnessing strong market demand for thinner, lighter, and aesthetically competitive products where thermoplastic composites like Maezio are making a difference,” said Lisa Ketelsen, head of the thermoplastic composite business of Covestro.
To keep up with a growing range of applications, Covestro is broadening the base of its portfolio with different matrix materials and properties, she added.
“The new tape line, in combination with our mass production lines, will allow us to do quick iterations and scaling based on market demand,” Ketelsen added.
Amongst others, Covestro is developing thermoplastic polyurethane- (TPU) based CFRTP, which is claimed to have “excellent chemical resistance properties and superior flexibility in a wide temperature range.”
The company sees strong demand especially from the footwear and sports equipment industries for the product.
“Thermoplastic composites enable significant increases in production speed for mass production, and their ability to be molded with features and produced to near net shape eliminates the need for many secondary operations,” explained Dr.-Ing. Christian Wilms, head of technology of the thermoplastic composite business of Covestro.
Furthermore, the materials are inherently recyclable, making them a suitable choice for scalable and sustainable products.
Additionally, to enhance its knowledge in composite parts applications, Covestro has installed hybrid injection molding machines at its CFRTP locations in Germany and China.
A hybrid injection moulding machine combines the thermoforming of semi-finished composite parts with in-mold injection molding through a fully automated one-step processing technology.
“We’re working closely with our machinery and processing partners such as KraussMaffei and Engel to offer customers full support in their product development process,” said Dr.-Ing. Olaf Zoellner, head of application development Europe at the polycarbonates business unit at Covestro.
According to the Covestro official, a supportive value chain with the know-how for mass production of composite parts is critical to bringing the solutions to the mainstream market.