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10 Years of Bcomp Ltd.

- It has been a wild ride and we are not about to slow down

“It all started in a small garage with some friends who wanted to build lighter and better skis.” – Sounds cliché but this really was the beginning of Bcomp. The real birth of Bcomp as a young startup happened in 2011 in Fribourg though. Venturelab and Innosuisse provided Bcomp with the most valuable support tools for the company’s early-stage phase and the foundation was quickly followed by a win at the IMD Startup Competition. This first year already set the tone for the action-packed decade that was to follow.

Early years

Within the first year of Bcomp’s foundation ampliTex™ natural fibre reinforcements and the lightweight, high-performance core material for skis and snowboards – the bCores™ – were officially launched. The revolutionary and patented powerRibs™ technology was launched shortly after in 2013 and these three technologies still form the core of Bcomp’s sustainable lightweighting solutions to this date.

 

The first five years of Bcomp were dominated by extensive research and development efforts. Year after year the team gained more knowledge and expertise of the complex natural fibre materials and applied these findings to our technologies. bCores™ were hitting the snowsports market with perfect timing for the rise of the freeride and freetouring wave and many of the big names in skiing launched lightweight high-performance freeride skis with bCores™ inside. 2016 marked a special point as more than 30 different brands presented skis with bCores™ at the annual ISPO in Munich in the year of Bcomp’s 5th birthday. This special year was topped off with Bcomp winning the 2016 Swiss Economic Award at the Swiss Economic Forum (SEF).

A journey of collaboration

From the very beginning, Bcomp put an emphasis on company culture and the humans that make everything happen. The team consists of dedicated and passionate individuals from different backgrounds, nationalities, and ages, sharing the drive to create better technologies for a cleaner future. The company’s motto – play naturally smart – is not just a phrase but something which people at Bcomp actively live from day to day. The whole team at Bcomp values their freedom, leisure, sports, and hobbies as well as family time, and having fun plays a crucial role in the creativity and performance of every team member.

 

Everyone at Bcomp shares the goal to play a role in the ongoing revolution towards cleaner mobility and we put all our efforts, passion, and energy into creating high performance solutions from sustainable materials. Bringing the latest innovations to the market requires a smart approach. This is why from the very beginning we have worked closely with leading universities, research institutes and laboratories. Going even further, we have always sought out collaborations with our suppliers and customers and built long lasting and very deep relationships that are based on a set of shared values and trust.

Upping the pace

The second half of Bcomp’s lifetime started with a bang in the form of entering the motorsport market. Partnerships and collaborations with the Electric GT racing series for bodyworks, Automobiles Gillet for their Vertigo that participated in 2018’s Pikes Peak race and with DAB Motors for their unique “ALTER” Yamaha Yard Built project bike set the pace and were early signs of the momentum that Bcomp was about to pick up. With more than 12 customer development projects together with automotive OEMs, 2018 marked yet another milestone in Bcomp’s journey to shaping the future of mobility. Winning the JEC Innovation Award for Future of Composites in Transportation together with Persico Automotive as well as the Don Burgoon Most Innovative New Motorsport Product 2018 at the World Motorsport Symposium showed the growing team at Bcomp once more that they were on the right track.

Sustainable lightweighting in many forms

By 2019 hundreds of cars were racing with ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ natural fibre bodywork in 16 racing series worldwide and together with Porsche Motorsport, Bcomp was a finalist for another JEC Innovation Award with natural fibre bodywork parts made in small series production. In the framework of the European Space Agency’s Clean Space program the world’s first natural fibre reinforced satellite panel was developed by Bcomp and ESA while ampliTex™ flax fibre reinforcements also started to enter the marine industry – beautifully showcased in the form of the stunning Flax 27 made by Greenboats. 2020 continued to demonstrate the versatility of Bcomp’s sustainable lightweighting technologies with the inauguration of a record-breaking bio-composite bridge near Ritsumasyl in the Netherlands. After becoming a member of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions in 2019, ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ technologies became part of Solar Impulse’s 1000 Solutions in 2020.

Start of a new chapter

The partnership with electric performance car brand Polestar announced in early 2020 marked the start of a new chapter for sustainable interior panels for large scale automotive. Natural fibres are also continuing their penetration of the sports-, motorsports- and marine sectors. McLaren Racing’s natural fibre F1 seat, Porsche’s full natural fibre body kit on the Cayman 718 GT4 CS MR and Baltic Yacht’s Café Racer 68 are all prime examples of how far Bcomp has come in the last 10 years.

 

With all this, it is only fitting that after these successful years Bcomp just renewed and reinforced its commitment to the location in Fribourg by building its first production line here. The town of Fribourg and its surroundings are quickly becoming a hub for innovation, know-how, and forward-looking companies. With the new production site and the headquarters in Fribourg, Bcomp is contributing to the local job market, ensuring that young people from the area can find challenging positions with an impact and that valuable know-how is concentrated in this area of Switzerland. At the same time, we have benefitted from the tremendous support we have been receiving from the Fribourg Development Agency throughout all these years.

Looking back on the past 10 years has us more than excited for what is yet to come. It has been a wild ride to where we are now, and we are far from slowing down anytime soon. The next ten years will see us apply everything we have learned about sustainable lightweighting from the sports and motorsports sectors to help the mobility sector reduce its climate impact.  Make sure to tag along for the next round as we will push even harder towards a circular economy.

Recent News

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Aug 04, 2022

McLaren Racing’s Sustainability Report

McLaren Racing recently released their Sustainability Report for 2021 and Bcomp is very pleased to be mentioned on several occasions throughout the report. Our partnership with McLaren has allowed us to have a positive impact in different areas. Race Logistics The work we did with McLaren Racing on the timing stand and engineers' island helped them to reduce travelling freight weight by 3450 kg. The new timing stand and engineers' island are made in a hybrid flax-carbon construction with Bcomp's ampliTex™ high-performance reinforcements making up the majority share. Replacing the previous carbon fibre components with natural flax fibre composites allowed McLaren Racing to decrease their amount of air freight and reduced their GHG footprint. Circular Design Our natural fibre technologies create high-performance alternatives to plastics and carbon fibre that come with viable end-of-life solutions. This allows McLaren Racing to explore new paths in circular design while they also keep working on alternative end-of-life solutions. A Successful Collaboration "Our partnership with Bcomp has been a game-changer in helping us find new opportunities for incorporating natural fibre composites into our design and engineering," states the McLaren Racing Sustainability Report. Together we have developed Formulas 1's first natural fibre racing seat. Lando Norris' new seat uses an optimised layup of ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ flax fibre solutions to replace the conventional carbon fibre layup. The pioneering natural fibre technologies reduce reliance on carbon fibre and single use plastic and lower the CO2 emissions by 85% compared to the seat's carbon fibre counterpart. We are excited to see what the future holds and how we can further advance sustainable lightweighting solutions from natural fibres in the course of this successful collaboration. The full Sustainability Report from McLaren Racing can be found here: McLaren Racing Sustainability Report 2021 Five key takeaways from the Sustainability Report All images © McLaren Racing Have a question or want to stay in touch? Contact us now

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Aug 02, 2022

World-Class Craftsman Harnesses Natural Fibre Composites

The REI chair is a testament to the incredible build, surface and finish quality that can be achieved by using Bcomp’s ampliTex™ technical fabrics. Learn about how Tras Ltd., a Japanese composite company with a background in motorsport, has made its signature high-end designer chair far more sustainable. A World-Class Composite Craftsman From endurance motorcycle racing to luxury designer furniture, design and manufacturing studio Tras is a Japanese leader in composites. It is the latest organization to fly the flag of the Japanese composites industry – a craft that has been central to the culture for more than a millennium. Specialising in the design and production of carbon composites and other advanced composite materials (ACM), Tras began when its founder, Masanao Nitta, started to design bespoke carbon bodywork for race cars and motorcycles in 1988. In 2002, when established teams hesitated at his offer to provide bodywork, he decided to take action himself and started his own team to design and produce aerodynamic bodywork for the Suzuka 8 Hours, leading to a class victory with a BMW Motorrad in 2006. This eventually led to Tras being a partner for Suzuki’s Moto GP team from 2009, leveraging the deal through branding and exposure and further work within motorsport as Team Partner for the Toyota Motorsport GmbH's VLN bid with the LEXUS IS F CCS-R. Paying Homage to an Ancient Composite Tradition It was 2009 and Masanao Nitta had a strong desire to develop unique furniture that showcased his incredible carbon composite craftsmanship in an interesting way. Project REI was a collaboration between Tras and renowned Japanese designer Keita Shimizu. The team drew from Japan’s rich history of composite work, citing and paying homage to the 1,300-year-old Ashura statue. Made entirely from composites – flax fibres and urushi lacquer (a natural resin) – the statue depicts a god, stands around 1.5 metres tall and is considered to be a national treasure. When Masanao Nitta used carbon fibre composites in the first REI chair design, he went through countless steps of lacquering and surface polishing. Applying this ancient technique to today’s state-of-the-art composite materials, allowed Tras to achieve a unique tint that reflects the deep golden-brown of natural urushi lacquer. With the statue a well-known cultural icon of Japan, the chair paying homage to it quickly garnered attention. It was even exhibited internationally, including in Switzerland during Art Basel at the VOLTA fair. Showcasing Visual Perfection with ampliTex™ Drawing significant international attention to Japan’s rich history of composites and the expert application of carbon composites in furniture design and production, Masanao Nitta learned about the latest sustainable high-performance natural fibre composites. It was not long before he was in discussions with the Bcomp team about using ampliTex™ to produce a new version of the REI chair that closely mirrored the Ashura statue’s original flax fibre and urushi lacquer construction. The new, natural fibre REI highlights the level of quality and craftsmanship that is possible with industry-leading flax fibre composite reinforcements. The unique aesthetic of ampliTex™ was perfectly suited to this high-end design application with the flax weave entirely visible across the ‘bowl’ shaped structure of the chair. With visual perfection and quality paramount to ensuring the chair meets the expectations of discerning customers, ampliTex™ was the ideal choice thanks to its unique high-end appearance. A Perfect Match for Furniture and Luxury Goods With advanced composites becoming an increasingly popular material within high-end furniture design and production, the use of natural fibres that cannot only match the visual quality of carbon but add their very own unique appearance, could be an important step towards decarbonising the industry. To learn more about the use of Bcomp’s ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ technologies in furniture and luxury goods, please get in touch with our design team. If you would like to learn more about Tras and its REI chair, please visit www.tras.co.jp All images © Tras / Koichi OHTANI Have a question or want to stay in touch? Contact us now

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Jul 08, 2022

Bcomp is Official Partner of the Foiling Week SuMoth Challenge 2022

Bcomp is very proud to be official partner of the SuMoth challenge that took place this weekend on beautiful Lake Garda during the Foiling Week. Sunny skies, perfect wind conditions and a great atmosphere made for an amazing event. The SuMoth Challenge The SuMoth challenge invites student teams from all over the world to design, build, and eventually race a sustainable foiling Moth. The teams bring together students from different backgrounds to work on a common goal and gain valuable experience with sustainable technologies driving the future of sustainable boat building. Teams have to go through all the phases from material selection and design process, to engineering, actually building the Moth and finally getting it on the water. Time and budget constraints add to the complexity of this endeavour. Such a project can only be tackled with the right support and the teams can count on the partners of the SuMoth challenge. Sharing Knowledge Bcomp has a long tradition of passing on its knowledge and expertise in natural fibre composite solutions to students who will shape the future of many an industry. Needless to say, we were more than happy to support teams during the challenge. Paolo Dassi, Bcomp’s Marine and Industry Manager, held a masterclass on biobased composites for the participating teams. These masterclasses allow the students to benefit from the concentrated knowledge of the SuMoth partners and to gain valuable insights. Talking to the teams on location and hearing first-hand how the masterclass has helped them and given them inspiration for new ideas, was simply great. Many of the teams on site mentioned that they are actively exploring the use of natural fibres for anything from updated and improved components to entire new hulls for next year’s event. Finally Taking Flight We saw incredible commitment and effort from all the teams over the course of the Foiling Week. They all had their own setbacks and victories, working tirelessly to get their innovative and sustainable Moth to take off, and to make a point for their design and material choices. Especially standing out, were moments such as the Moth from Canadian team Rafale ETS taking flight for the first time ever, or the entire PoliMi Sailing Team working tirelessly late into the evenings to finally take home a shared first place in the design stage and 2nd place in stage 2, just to name a few. We congratulate all the teams on their great boat designs and are already looking forward to seeing more teams and boats with natural fibre components by next year. Foiling Week The Foiling Week was a great success with a lot of interesting racing action, many initiatives to help people achieve their first foiling experience and cool side events such as the Foiling Film Festival. There was also a row of panel discussions on all the topics around foiling spread out over the long weekend. Bcomp was represented by Paolo Dassi, its Marine and Industry Manager, who could contribute his expertise during the discussion about Building Sustainability into Foiling. The entire forum sessions were streamed live and are now available on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ-F_iSrens Learn more: SuMoth Challenge The Foiling Week All images © Bcomp / Flurin Efinger Have a question or want to stay in touch? Contact us now