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Fully recyclable thermoplastic composites

Recyclable thermoplastic composites for large-scale production of light commercial vehicles

Italian research & development company, Sigit, has lent its expertise in using recycled thermoplastic materials for the large-scale production of light commercial vehicles (LCV).

This innovative project – Composite Research Abruzzo, known as CRAB for short – was developed in partnership with an international vehicle manufacturer, a research centre, a university engineering team and an Italian company that is expert in automation and robotics. Together they have created a functional solution that not only reduces the cost of the vehicle manufacturing process but also the environmental impact.

CRAB specifically targets an LCV’s service battery housing and liquids tank support. In the production phase, these subs-systems typically involve the use of various different materials, many sub-processes and fixing solutions that require various integrated operations throughout the assembly line.

CRAB improves these configurations, reduces the use of chemical protective coating treatment by up to 98%, simplifies the typical complex mix of materials required, some of which are not recyclable. The CRAB solution also enables the vehicle manufacturer to reduce the vehicle’s mass significantly, increase the payload capacity and by doing so reduce the carbon dioxide emissions in both the construction phase and throughout the vehicle’s lifetime.

Sigit’s expertise has made it possible to produce BIW components for LCVs from thermoplastic composites that are much lighter than those currently available on the market. The components, which are fully recyclable at the end of the lifecycle, have shown to have a positive impact on performance as well as being more cost-effective. Switching to such components also results in a massive reduction in metal usage and therefore the need for protective chemical surface treatments, such as painting, galvanizing and phosphating.

Making the switch to this innovative technology will reduce the overall carbon footprint and environmental impact of the whole manufacturing process.