Composites for sport
The best-known applications of TenCate thermoset and thermoplastic composite materials and resin systems are large structures produced in series, such as aeroplanes and satellites. A smaller part of the product portfolio relates to applications in sports and racing cars and a range of sporting attributes.
It’s mainly a question of sports requirements where low weight, stiffness and durability are vital. Examples include Formula 1 racing, motorbike racing and cycling, golf, tennis, rowing, hockey and running.
Currently turnover in automotive composites is developing positively. Carbon-fibre thermoset composite prepreg material from TenCate is used for the production of the entire monocoque of the Alfa Romeo 4C (photo). In addition TenCate is working together with the Swiss company Kringlan Composites on the manufacture of car parts based on thermoplastic composites (see photo below). The emphasis lies on high-grade components that increase safely and reduce weight, such as wheel rims. Composite rims are more that 25 percent lighter than conventional rims.
The use of composites for automotive purposes has already proved valuable in demonstrators, prototypes and finished vehicles such as Superbus and cars powered by sun or wind energy. Examples include the vehicles of the DUT Racing Team and Team Antarctica, the Go4Dakar, the REDEngine of the University of Twente (picture below), the Anemo wind-driven car and the NovaBike motorbike. They perform under both artic and tropical conditions. Composite materials withstand corrosion, impact and exceptionally high and low temperatures.
Photo: Jerome Wassenaar
A less well known contribution to the field of sports by TenCate composites and resin systems over the years relates to materials for cycle handlebars, inline skates, tennis rackets, hockey sticks and skates, cycle helmets and athletic shoes. Thermoplastic composite makes shoes and other sports articles lighter, more resilient and more durable.
The facilities of TenCate Advanced Composites in Camarillo (United States) and Burlington (Canada) are important suppliers of these materials to the sports industry.