Bcomp was born in a garage as the founders wanted to develop light skis that still performed extremely well for free skiing. Since then, the company has acquired many the leading ski brands globally as customers, as well as developed a range of highly engineered sustainable lightweighting solutions for different applications. Born from PhD material scientists, Bcomp applies the latest composites and lightweighting knowledge to natural fibres and have managed to develop solutions that can outperform any standard engineering material for certain applications.
The natural fibres used are flax, the same fibre that is used in clothing, except Bcomp has a specific “vintage” that mixes fibres from different locations and years in order to achieve a consistent quality. The fibres grow naturally in Europe and, as opposed to cotton, does not require water, pesticides or chemicals in the growing, harvesting and manufacturing. In fact, the fibres are CO2 neutral over its entire lifecycle.
The powerRibs™ technology is inspired by the thin veins on the back of leaves, which provide maximal stiffness at minimal weight by forming a 3D shape. The powerRibs™ can be used together with ampliTex™, Bcomp’s range of high-performance reinforcement fabrics, to replace carbon fibres, or it can be used to reinforce e.g. carbon fibres (and thereby significantly reducing the amount of material needed). Applications range from sport – skis, kayaks, long boards, surf boards – to automotive interior panels, motorsport bodywork, and there is even a bridge built with ampliTex™!
With powerRibs™, automotive interior panels can be made 40% lighter and using 80% less plastic, as shown by the Volvo Cars Recycled Plastics Demonstrator Vehicle. For motorsport, a full-natural fibre layup of powerRibs™ and ampliTex™ can replace carbon fibres in bodywork and thereby reduce the CO2 footprint by 75% and costs by 30% while increasing vibration damping 5x and improving safety without sharp shattering and toxic dust. Currently, many GT4 race cars are featuring the materials on the racetracks, and Bcomp was the finalist of the JEC Innovation Awards together with Porsche AG in 2019 for a race car door.
Bcomp uses renewable fibres that are grown in Europe and have a transparent and clean manufacturing process. The materials contribute to a reduced environmental footprint by being “cleaner” from a fibre perspective, but also in the sense that they reduce the total amount of material needed for the same performance, and by reducing weight, less fuel is needed. At the end of life, the materials can be ground down into a new base material or incinerated for heat within the standard waste management system – as opposed to carbon fibres that often end up in landfills.
To put the latest research to practice, Bcomp works closely with a variety of universities and research institutions. For example, Bcomp is part of the Clean Space program by the European Space Agency, where the materials are tested and developed for use in space to make space exploration cleaner.
Source: www.bcomp.ch, www.startwerk.ch, www.watson.ch