ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ are terms that are becoming ever more common in the automotive industry. Debuting in the motorsport industry, and being used by the likes of BMW, Porsche, as well as the McLaren Formula 1 team, Bcomp’s innovative natural fibre composite technologies are now taking the production vehicle industry by storm, already being featured in the likes of the new Volvo EX30. Embracing Bcomp’s sustainable large-scale mobility solutions can enable up to 50% weight savings and up to 70% plastic reduction vs. the common injection moulding (IMPP) solution. So, let’s see what ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ are really about and why they have become synonymous with high-performance natural fibre composites and sustainable lightweighting.
The Advantages of ampliTex™ and powerRibs™
ampliTex™ is a cutting-edge, lightweight natural fibre reinforcement fabric that offers numerous benefits for the large-scale automotive industry. It is made available as different types of fabric from UD to biaxial and twills, all the way to customised weaves and can be had as prepreg or dry reinforcement for thermoset applications or more importantly as ampliTex™-PP – a ready-to-use thermoplastic material.
Notably, it stands out for its ability to infuse a modern and natural aesthetic into the design of your components. With a wide range of customisation options, it allows for a multitude of looks and colours, adding a touch of personalisation and uniqueness to each vehicle. The natural material adds character and soul that shine where synthetic materials like carbon and glass fibres suffer from a dead perfection.
powerRibs™ on the other hand draw inspiration from the supporting 3D structure of leaf veins. They represent a groundbreaking patented composite technology that delivers an unmatched stiffness-to-weight ratio while using minimal base material. They can be used to reinforce almost any composite shell structure and in combination with many different composite materials and manufacturing processes.
In automotive interiors, ampliTex™ can replace petrol-based materials, such as IMPP or traditional cover materials, which helps to reduce CO2 emissions during the production phase of a vehicle. It is compatible with standard production methods and, as a readily available drop-in solution, can simply be used in a traditional injection moulding tool to create a high-end part with a supreme visual quality directly from a one-step-process. When used in combination with well-established NFPP, ampliTex™ has significant weight reduction capabilities vs. the IMPP benchmark while providing a one-step production process that yields a high-end surface straight out of the tool. The aspect of lightweighting also helps reduce CO2 emissions produced during the use phase of the vehicle, as a lighter car consumes less energy to cover the same distance. powerRibs™-PP can either be used in combination with ampliTex™-PP and NFPP for a very lightweight mono-material solution or it can be used in conjunction with an NFPP layer and any standard cover material to provide lightweighting benefits even in areas that are not directly visible. Manufacturing interior components with the ampliTex™-PP and powerRibs™-PP technologies allows for up to 50% weight savings and up to 70% plastic reduction vs. the usual IMPP go-to solution.
From the Fields of Europe to Your Everyday Vehicle
The automotive industry stands among the largest contributors to global CO2 emissions. However, it’s crucial to recognize that this environmental impact isn’t solely limited to a vehicle’s use phase. Indeed, a substantial portion of CO2 is emitted during both the production and the end-of-life stages of a vehicle’s life cycle. Now, natural fibres composites, coming from flax plants that have been cultivated and used for centuries in Europe, could play a significant role in reducing the emissions and impact of the automotive industry.
The production process of a car plays a significant role in contributing to CO2 emissions throughout its entire life cycle. Material emissions and energy intensive manufacturing steps add up to what results in the largest chunk of emissions for a state-of-the-art electric vehicle.
In comparison to conventional IMPP parts with traditional cover materials, the innovative combination of ampliTex™-PP, NFPP and powerRibs™-PP presents a solution that slashes the quantity of CO2 emitted from cradle to gate by up to 60%.
Not only does the Bcomp technology have a substantial positive environmental impact, but it also delivers practical benefits for large-scale production. Easily integrated into existing production lines, it can simplify manufacturing by eliminating certain steps. Creating parts with a perfect visual surface directly out of the mould allows to forego additional steps like the application of traditional cover materials. The possibility of implementing a one-step back injection process for local reinforcements and fasteners further enhances efficiency, allowing the solution to comply with tight time restrictions in mass production settings.
Beneath the captivating, modern and natural aesthetic of ampliTex™ with its unique character lie the true sustainability benefits of Bcomp’s materials. Weight savings of up to 50% on part level unfold their full effect throughout a car’s lifecycle and use phase. Every gram that is saved in an interior component helps the vehicle to consume less energy to travel a certain distance thereby contributing to a substantially lower amount of CO2 emissions during its use phase, without compromising on performance.
End of Life
Now, more than ever, considering the end-of-life phase of products holds paramount importance. Reducing the plastic content in parts by up to 70% thanks to the benefits of our renewable material solutions is already a big step but we don’t stop there. Components made with a mono-material combination of ampliTex™-PP, NFPP and powerRibs™-PP can easily be converted into a new base material at the end of their useful life. Shredding components and compounding them into flax-PP pellets creates a new base material for injection moulding processes. This means that parts made with Bcomp’s thermoplastic ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ materials can be completely recycled and repurposed to serve a 2nd life in another set of components.
Using the Bcomp Solutions
Bcomp offers a diverse range of adaptable and customised product solutions to cater to a wide array of needs. Beyond cutting-edge sustainable technologies, Bcomp provides strong support and guidance, ensuring the seamless implementation of Bcomp innovations in both vehicles and production processes.
Designing parts to be manufactured with a combination of ampliTex™-PP and an NFPP base layer or ampliTex™-PP, NFPP and powerRibs™-PP as an additional reinforcement, allows you to make the most of our sustainable lightweighting potential. Replacing conventional IMPP components with our large-scale natural fibre technologies allows for up to 50% weight reduction, up to 70% less plastic use in the component and up to 60% lower CO2 emissions from cradle to gate. Processing happens in conventional compression moulding machines with dedicated tools and Bcomp’s engineering team is here to support you with its expertise through the entire implementation from first idea to the final part out of press.
Where the sustainable lightweighting concept is focused on exploiting the full potential of Bcomp’s ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ technologies, the idea of sustainable design combines sustainability benefits with a desire for unique aesthetics. The character and soul transmitted by the natural appearance of ampliTex™, is combined with the simplicity of an injection moulding process. Used as a customisable visual layer, ampliTex™ can replace traditional petrol-based cover materials with a renewable alternative while guaranteeing highest ease of use as a drop-in layer in your injection moulding process. This simple compatibility with one of the most widely used production processes, really allows OEMs and Tier 1s to easily embrace the sustainable design perks of ampliTex™ without having to worry about added complexity.
With a variety of weave and colour options, ampliTex™ is guaranteed to fulfil your wishes for sustainable design options. And with the possibility to completely customise and tailor our beautiful natural fibre composites to customer needs, your imagination is the only limit between you and the future of sustainable interior design.