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27th July 2015, Cologne

Paraglider featuring harness made from ultra-strong sandwich composite crosses the Alps

The high-performance composite material Tepex dynalite from LANXESS subsidiary Bond-Laminates has been used in the RANGE X-ALPS paraglider reclining harness, manufactured by Skywalk, a Germany based paraglider manufacturer.

This material is a continuous fibre-reinforced and polypropylene-based composite. The paraglider harness made with this composite was put to practice during a competition challenging the athletes to cross the Alps by paraglider and on foot.

Across the Alps by paraglider and on foot – an extreme challenge both for the athletes and their equipment. © Skywalk

The harness’s footboard is made of a sandwich composite just 1cm thick, comprising thin Tepex facings measuring just 0.5 mm and a polypropylene honeycomb core from EconCore N.V.

Cost efficient

“We tested the sandwich sheets extensively and are very pleased with the low weight combined with the high rigidity and strength,” said Manfred Kistler, General Manager of Skywalk.

The sheets are 20% lighter than earlier versions made from a carbon fibre-reinforced epoxy resin. The harness therefore weighs just slightly more than 1kg, according to the manufacturer. Another advantage is the low costs – the new component is said to cost 25% less than the epoxy system.

Lighter than sheet steel or aluminium

To control a paraglider, the pilot must shift his body weight, while maintaining muscle tension. This is achieved by pushing the feet against the harness’s footboard. In extreme situations, such as sudden turning maneuvers when approaching a steep rock face, very high forces are applied to the footboard, comparable to fully depressing the brake pedal in a car to avoid an accident.

To control a paraglider, the pilot must shift his body weight, while maintaining muscle tension. This is achieved by pushing the feet against the harness’s footboard. © Skywalk

“The footboard can easily withstand these loads. The flexural rigidity and flexural strength of such sandwich structures can be higher than that of sheet steel or aluminium depending on the thickness of the facings and the honeycomb core – but they have a much lower weight per unit area,” explained Harri Dittmar, an applications engineer for Tepex.

Applications in automotive engineering

LANXESS also sees major opportunities for sandwich composites of this kind in lightweight automotive construction, particularly in larger parts requiring rigidity, such as trunk floors, fuel tank covers, range extender housings, structural battery housings and seat components.

“The composites could serve as an alternative to glass fibre mats or polyurethane spray foams for manufacturing trunk floors in passenger vehicles. One advantage for processors: they would no longer have to deal with reactive chemical systems and could eliminate considerable costs for equipment and safety systems,” explained Martin Klocke, Manager for Lightweight Construction Business Development at the LANXESS High Performance Materials business unit.

www.lanxess.be

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