Sports cars, especially high performance models, make good use of carbon fiber to lighten their weight while having a very rigid structure. It is also a popular material in the design of their interiors.
However, carbon fiber is quite expensive to produce, which has a direct impact on the price of cars. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we found a considerably cheaper alternative?
This is what Bcomp offers, a Swiss company that focuses on linen. What, flax? Yep, the same plant whose textile fibers are used to make towels, linens, tablecloths and blankets could be the solution. Its product, called Amplitex, is also beginning to be adopted by major car manufacturers.
It is a combination of flax fibers and epoxy resin which, like carbon fiber, can take different shapes and thicknesses depending on the desired application.
According to Bcomp, its Amplitex (taking into account the mesh that supports it) is 75% cleaner for the environment. One square meter generates 16.9 kilograms of CO2 compared to 45.6 kilograms for carbon fiber, which requires temperatures between 1,500 and 2,500 degrees and which, moreover, can hardly be recycled. And let’s not forget that flax naturally absorbs CO2.
The other big advantage of a material like Amplitex is that it costs around 30% less to produce than carbon fiber, for similar weight and stiffness. It is therefore possible to imagine substantial savings in money for sports car manufacturers.
Currently the racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR uses an Amplitex body package. Ditto for the seats of McLaren’s F1 cars. Polestar has also used it for the interior of its Precept concept, which will give birth next year to a production model (the Polestar 3, probably).
Bcomp says it is ready to start full-scale production as early as 2021.