Lighter vehicles mean a smaller carbon footprint – the Holy Grail for aircraft manufacturers and automakers. The quest for lightness is pushing boundaries further with Arkema’s ultra-high-performance materials.
Arkema’s Kepstan® PEKK, combined with high-performance carbon fibers, is a perfect choice for the aeronautics industry - 40% lighter than aluminum and offering exeptional mechanical and thermal resistance (up to 260°C). “PEKK composite tapes, developed through our partnership with Hexcel, have a growing number of applications in the manufacture of structural parts (longitudinal struts and circular frames), as well as in the “skin” of devices, for which they offer the benefit of shorter production cycles than thermoset composites,” explains Philippe Bussi, General Manager, Kepstan®. Furthermore, PEKK is ideal for 3D printing, as its lighter weight means it can be used for very complex shapes, such as air distributors.
Also in aircraft, Elium® thermoplastic resin offers a competitive solution for various interior parts (bucket seats, cup holders, etc.) But its most significant application in terms of weight reduction is battery protection packs for electric and hybrid cars, for which Arkema is forging partnerships with Renault, PSA, and Faurecia. “Elium® fiberglass composites, which are 10-15% lighter than steel, have the advantage of being recyclable, unlike thermoset composites, and are suitable for the fastest production processes in the automotive industry,” says Guillaume Clédat, Business and Development Manager, Elium®. Lastly, Rilsan® HT polyamide 11 is 70% bio-based and boasts exceptional temperature resistance (135 °C in continuous use). It is increasingly popular with automotive suppliers as an alternative to metal in fluid transport applications close to the engine, in cooling circuits.
PMMA, or Altuglas® ShieldUp acrylic glass offers significant advantages over glass. It is 50% lighter with five times greater impact resistance; it is clearer, offers better insulation and it is highly resistant to detergents. There is only one catch... It is less scratch-resistant than glass, and therefore less resistant to wiper blades. Launched in 2015, the range has extended the common applications of PMMA and has enjoyed growing success on the market for motorcycle windshields, with a high-end positioning. “It is perfectly suited to thermoforming complex or very curved parts, which are difficult to achieve with glass,” explains Marilyne Hurtado, Market & Technical Manager, Altuglas® ShieldUp. This elegant material is also well suited to car sunroofs and is used for this purpose on the Renault Twizy, as well as for its wind deflectors.