back

Coupling Thermosets and Thermoplastics – Bringing Racetrack Performance to the Roads

The CONEXUS Technology

Austrian KTM Technologies – specialised in mobility concepts, lightweight and performance technologies – have been developing the CONEXUS technology over the last years. CONEXUS is a coupling layer that allows to directly bond thermoset and thermoplastic components thanks to its specifically formulated chemical composition.

 

Applied to a thermoset laminate, the CONEXUS technology results in a surface with thermoplastic properties, allowing for direct overmoulding with thermoplastic elements such as ribs, fasteners, and local reinforcements in form of PA6, or even the possibility for ultrasonic welding.

Coupling Sustainable Materials

Striving for a more sustainable solution to apply their new technology, KTM Technologies has collaborated with Swiss expert in sustainable lightweighting solutions, Bcomp. The brake cover of a motocross bike has been designed from the ground up to make full use of the best traits from both the thermoset and thermoplastic worlds. Bcomp’s technical ampliTex™ flax prepregs are used to create a lightweight yet stiff structure. The cured flax fibre composite part with the CONEXUS coupling layer, which is produced at the partner company ALBA tooling & Engineering GmbH, is then completed with reinforcement ribs, fasteners, and edge protection in the form of PA6 that is over-moulded in a special tool at KTM’s partner Altendorfer Spritzgusswerk GmbH.

 

Overmoulding the edges of the flax fibre composite elements protects them against potential interlaminar damage caused by impacts or flying debris while also providing a pleasing appearance. Compared to a traditional, injection moulded brake cover, this new version saves weight, shows reduced vibrations while it also significantly reduces the CO2 footprint thanks to the CO2 neutral flax fabrics. The coupling layer also gives the opportunity to separate the different materials at the end of product life and recycle the PA6.

 

Using Bcomp’s technical ampliTex™ fabrics rather than a standard carbon- and glass fibre hybrid layup, reduces the CO2 footprint of the thermoset components by roughly 82%. In the event of a crash or fatal impact on the brake cover, the flax fibres show a ductile fracture behaviour – completely opposite to the sharp shattering and splintering of carbon fibres that poses a risk to the track side safety personal as well as fellow riders with an increased risk for punctures. Significant safety improvements can also be observed at the production stage where flax fibres are pleasant to work with and don’t pose any risk to the worker’s health with zero toxic fibre dust.

Aiming for Full Circularity

The current version of the brake cover still relies on traditional epoxy resins for the thermoset and virgin PA6 for the thermoplastic elements. With the current advancements in the development of fully biobased epoxy resins and completely biobased PA6 already being available, KTM Technologies is looking at creating a fully biobased version of the brake cover. While some work will be necessary to adapt the formulation of the CONEXUS coupling layer to play nicely with the biobased resin and PA6, the potential for such a solution is significant. At the parts end-of-life the thermoset and thermoplastic components can easily be separated thanks to the CONEXUS foil. PA6 can be recycled and reused to produce new parts while the flax fibre composites with biobased matrix can be used as a source of renewable energy via highly efficient thermal energy recovery in state-of-the-art waste-to-energy cogeneration plants. In this case, KTM’s CONEXUS technology can be regarded as a key player, enabling a fully circular product.

Taking Racetrack Performance to Large-Scale Road Applications

Looking at the bigger picture, this brake cover serves as a demonstrator piece and perfectly showcases the technology and its market readiness, but the real break-through happens in the form of the ongoing technology transfer from race to road. What works perfectly on the small scale of the brake cover can well be transferred to other applications in the mobility market. With the possibility of adding local reinforcements, attachment points, and edge protection to thermoset composite parts in a highly efficient process might be paving the path for natural fibre bodyworks made from ampliTex™ in large-scale production.

 

Another possibility, provided by the co-cured coupling layer, are class-A body panels that can be manufactured with fixation elements directly on the back of the part via injection molding. With this material combination, the use of additional gluing steps is needless.

About KTM Technologies

Mobility beyond existing solutions. Innovative lightweight  construction. Applied technologies.

 

Three factors that KTM Technologies deals with every day, to develop reliable and safe solutions and innovative possibilities. Expanded with a deep understanding of the entire vehicle, the highly qualified employees at KTM Technologies solve challenges in many industries – from the first idea to serial production. As a specialist in concept development, KTM Technologies GmbH has specialised in mobility concepts, high-performance and lightweight technologies.

Have a question or want to stay in touch?

Recent News

thumbnail

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

thumbnail

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

thumbnail

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