McLaren x Bcom launch Natural racing car fiber

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2020-08-20 13:02:08 – Switzerland

McLaren has partnered with the Swiss company Bcomp, a sustainable lightweight specialist to develop a natural fiber racing seat for Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. It marks its innovation as the first F1 car part to be made of renewable textile fibers. Through fabric architecture, the mechanical properties of flax fibers have been achieved. The required strength and stiffness to make a seat has been achieved by lowering the CO2 footprint by 75% when compared to its carbon fiber counterpart.

Andreas Seidl, McLaren F1 team principal said that the utilization of natural fiber composites is pioneering the composite materials innovation at McLaren. This solution not only performs equivalent to carbon fibers but marks their step closer in evolving sustainability programs while highlighting their commitment to helping F1 turn its ambitious sustainability plan to action.

Andreas Seidl, McLaren F1 team principal, stated that F1 has been an innovative lab for technology that has transformed not just the motorsports but also the automotive industry and beyond. He believes that the sport must continue down this road to be environmentally friendly. He further adds that the development of the natural fiber composites is an example of how they are accelerating their journey as well as the ongoing evolution towards cleaner mobility.

Christian Fischer, Bcomp CEO and co-founder said that stainability and decarbonization are a global issue, and he finds it admirable to see motorsport embrace carbon alternatives, paving the way for widespread adoption within large-scale mobility applications. He further adds that the partnership was only natural as McLaren has always been a pioneer within the sports industry and the collaboration will address the composites and sustainability.

Flax is incredibly versatile and has been around for millions of years. It is different from many biomaterials as it is ideally used in crop rotation programs and can be grown without direct threat with food crops. Flax is a CO2-neutral raw material and its fibers are decomposable. At the end of its life cycle, it can be grounded down into a new base material or thermally recycled without residual waste.

Inspired by the thin veins on the back of leaves, Bcomp’s proprietary powerRibs technology provides a three-dimensional grid structure on one side of the seat, which is used to reinforce Bcomp’s optimally spun and woven flax fiber reinforcement fabric, ampliTex. It has been formed by twisting flax fibers to form a thick yarn, the powerRibs play the role of a backbone to ampliTex flax fabric.  

The original carbon fiber seat design was reverse engineered by Bcomp and then was optimized and manufactured as the new design. The pre-season tests were successful and no problems were caused. The newly designed seats have reduced carbon footprint by 75%, cut costs, reduced vibrations and have improved safety.

The environmental benefits have been clearly stated, the mechanical properties of flax give it a USP as the renewable raw material for high-performance composites. The tube-like structure of the flax fibers provides low density and high stiffness which opens doors to reducing weight while improving vibration damping. It is also resistant to breakage, torsion and compression.

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