The Seattle, WA, area is rapidly emerging as a global center for carbon composites technology. The ball got rolling with the development of the composite-bodied Dreamliner 787 by Boeing. Toray Composites (America), Boeing’s primary carbon fiber supplier, has been adding capacity in Tacoma, WA, and now operates four prepreg lines there.
Italian automobile manufacturer Lamborghini has identified carbon composites as a core development area and is investigating new technologies in collaboration with the University of Washington and the Boeing Research and Technology Center in Seattle.
BMW wants to be the first to introduce large-scale use of carbon composites in cars and established SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture with the SGL Group. The JV is building a plant in Moses Lake, WA, to produce carbon fiber. The plant will operate two lines, each with annual capacity of 1,500 metric tons. The first line is expected to be commissioned late next year. This is despite the fact that the car is being designed and assembled in Germany.
Hats off to Boeing for making the USA a global center for this pivotal new materials’ technology.