SABIC Invests in Composites Specialist
Saudi chemicals giant SABIC has invested an undisclosed sum in Dutch composites specialist Airborne International as part of a growth financing round by existing shareholders. The funds will allow Airborne to implement digital infrastructure that will serve as a platform for automating thermoplastic composites production, which will improve yields, cycle times and system costs.
SABIC said the move is a critical step towards a broader use of continuous fiber-reinforced composites and offers the opportunity to achieve mass production in a more cost-effective way. “This investment and collaboration with Airborne will enable SABIC to take the next step in the commercialization of thermoplastic composites and help our customers to develop unique lightweight applications,” said Ernesto Occhiello, executive vice president of SABIC’s Specialties business.
Airborne’s founder and CEO, Arno van Mourik, added that a radical increase in the level of automation and digitalization as well as the availability of information throughout the supply chain will be crucial success factors for the composites industry.
Fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites offer the potential for many industries, including aerospace, automotive, oil & gas, consumer electronics and sport, to make components that require less weight but higher strength than alternative materials.
In March 2016, SABIC took a majority stake in Dutch company Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics, a producer of unidirectional (UD) tape used in applications ranging from building and construction to transportation and energy. The tapes can be formed into composite materials.