The automotive industry is under pressure to take action. The European Union has ordered it to significantly reduce the CO2 emissions of its fleets, while the dead weight of passenger cars is also to be cut. One way weight can be saved is with innovative interior door panels made of natural fiber composites such as those manufactured by Bcomp Ltd. in Fribourg. The company’s powerRibs technology is comparable to the veins of plant leaves, but is based on flax fibers, which are used in the form of lattice-like ribs to reinforce thin-walled structures. This allows surfaces without actual core material to be significantly stiffened. It also notably improves damping properties.
“As a pioneer not only in Switzerland, but also internationally, we are proud to be part of the sustainable mobility revolution,” says Christian Fischer.
Natural fibers and their outstanding properties
Compared to conventional composite materials with glass or carbon fibers, the Bcomp application based on natural fibers offers further advantages: excellent mechanical properties, lower material consumption, lower total weight and lower costs. It also uses less water and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions during cultivation.“Innovation is important to us: We apply the latest findings on composites and lightweight construction based on natural fibers. This helps us to develop sustainable lightweight materials that surpass existing lightweight solutions,” says Bcomp CEO Christian Fischer.
Despite a strong focus on performance, the sustainability aspect is very important to the co-founder:
“New solutions must significantly reduce the ecological footprint compared to the current standard, but must not adversely affect current or future living standards"
Innovation doesn’t stop at motorsports
In 2018, a fact-finding mission organised by Switzerland Global Enterprise led the pioneers to the English Motorsport Valley. Motorsport Valley is known as the most important development centre of motorsport. Eight of the ten leading Formula 1 racing teams are based there. On this business trip the company was able to make new contacts and deepen existing ones.
Recognition for pioneering spirit and sustainable innovation
Bcomp was able to exhibit its products on site - and even won the prize for the most innovative motorsport product of the year, which is highly regarded in the industry. Two months later Bcomp was also awarded the "Autosport International Product Showcase Innovation Award". The awards would also show how motorsport is ready to reinvent itself, to remain an innovation leader and to attract new generations.
„It may sound contradictory, but the motor sports industry plays an important role as an innovation platform for future mobility technologies. Accordingly, it was very important for us to establish our innovative lightweight construction solution in this sector, so that it could then be used in large-scale production.”
Bcomp was founded in 2011 by sports-mad engineers and materials specialists who had met during the construction of a new ski core. Since then, balsa wood from Bcomp has been successfully used in combination with natural fiber fabrics as a core material for skis, snowboards and water sports products. Flax fibers are also used in technical textiles, for example in products for the summer sports industry: surfboards, skateboards, wakeboards, kites and stand-up paddleboards, as well as in the construction of canoes, kayaks and small electric boats.