A beltline stiffener demonstrates the combination of Braskem Polypropylene with WEAV3D Rebar for Plastics Lattice Technology. (Photo: Business Wire)

Braskem is partnering with WEAV3D to solve applications requiring high-strength, lightweight materials.

PHILADELPHIA—A collaboration between Braskem and WEAV3D Inc. addresses new structural and automotive applications that require high-strength, lightweight materials, the companies said in a release.

Braskem is a large producer of polyolefins and a pioneer producer of biopolymers on an industrial scale. WEAV3D is an advanced manufacturing and materials startup with a patented composite forming technology. The technology integrates weaving and composite consolidation into an automated, continuous process that is said to reduce waste, cycle times, and material handling costs.

The two companies recently demonstrated a novel combination of Braskem’s polypropylene (PP) sheets with WEAV3D’s thermoplastic composite lattice technology that is reported to enhance the performance of PP for applications involving structural and automotive materials.

The WEAV3D lattice technology reportedly enables lightweight PP parts to replace materials like steel. It is said to increase PP’s use in automotive applications by balancing improvements in performance, weight, and cost. The combination of Braskem PP sheets with WEAV3D’s Rebar for Plastics will allow Braskem to compete in new structural material end-markets, according to the release.

“We’re excited to offer our clients new innovations and partnerships around high-performance polypropylene materials utilizing the WEAV3D lattice technology,” said Braskem Technology Platform Manager Amanda Zani, in the release. “As the automotive industry continues to roll out new electric vehicle designs, it requires automakers to re-think the vehicle design with cutting-edge performance materials. With significant improvements in lightweighting, reduced costs, and higher material efficiency, combining Braskem’s PP portfolio with WEAV3D composite lattices provides a ‘win-win’ in terms of enhanced material performance and a more sustainable environmental impact, including the integration of natural fiber options.”

Using the combination of WEAV3D’s Rebar for Plastics® and Braskem Polypropylene is said to produce a more lightweight, cost effective, and efficient solution versus conventional composite organosheet. The combination reportedly reduces sheet blank weight by approximately 50 percent and final part weight by roughly 20 percent. In addition to reducing costs by about 50 percent, it is said to increase sheet yield from 25 percent to 45 percent by weight, resulting in a 63 percent reduction in trim waste.

“Braskem has been a fantastic partner throughout this project and really demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable materials innovation,” said Chris Oberste, president of WEAV3D, in the release. “Leveraging Braskem’s diverse polypropylene portfolio and deep technical expertise, we worked collaboratively with the Braskem team to identify the right combination of Braskem PP and reinforcing lattice material in order to minimize cost and maximize performance, while achieving formability and sustainability goals.”

WEAV3D, headquartered in metro Atlanta, is an innovator in composite materials, manufacturing processes, and processing equipment. The company spun out of the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2017. When combined with injection overmolding,  thermocompression, or thermoforming, its novel Rebar of Plastics® approach is reported to improve part stiffness and strength while minimizing weight. As such it is said to enable new innovations in the automotive and construction markets—at a fraction of the cost and cycle time associated with traditional composite manufacturing.

Braskem America is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Braskem S.A., headquartered in Philadelphia. The company is a major producer of polypropylene material in the United States, with five production plants located in Texas, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. It also has an Innovation and Technology Center in Pittsburgh and a New Renewable Innovation Center in Boston, focused on leveraging groundbreaking developments in biotechnology and advanced materials, the company said.