BRUSSELS—Solvay S.A. and 3A Composites are collaborating to produce specialty foam materials for advanced transportation.
The alliance combines 3A Composites' capabilities in industrial process development and high-volume fabrication of foams with Solvay's high- and ultra-performing plastics materials.
The firms initially will build on Solvay's Radel foam and so-called sandwich materials, used on Airbus A350 and Solar Impulse, and they later will expand that to products Solvay is developing.
The companies said transportation industries such as commercial aircraft or high-speed trains are seeking to replace heavier plastics and metal structures, which are more time-consuming to process and expensive to maintain, with specialty foams. Lightweight applications range from the cabin to ducting and trolleys and help to improve energy efficiency.
"Our alliance is a game-changer in making high-tech foams available on a large scale,” Armin Klesing, global business development manager, aerospace and composites at Solvay's Specialty Polymers Global Business Unit, said in a statement. “Part makers will benefit from greater flexibility in their designs and from uniting strength and insulation performance at the highest level of fire resistance.”
"Our company has continuously pioneered foam technology and is now at the forefront of establishing high-volume manufacturing solutions for specialty foams,” Roman Thomassin, CEO of 3A Composites, said in a statement. “Our teaming up with Solvay creates a technology leader in the high-end segment of light-weighting with foam.”
3A Composites said additional foam extrusion capacity in the U.S. will come on stream 2016.
Headquartered in Brussels, Solvay is an international chemical group that serves markets such as energy, environment, automotive, aerospace and electronics. It employs 26,000 in 52 countries and had sales of $10.8 billion in 2014.
3A Composites, a business area of Schweiter Technologies, employs 2,500 at locations in Europe, North and South America, and Asia. It manufactures composite panels and materials for sandwich solutions and is focused on the architecture, display, marine, transportation and wind power markets.