BMW has been at the forefront of volume automakers looking to invest in carbon fiber technology. The latest development in the German automaker's efforts is in the form of a joint venture with aircraft giant Boeing. According to a joint press release, the two companies will collaborate on further development of the lightweight material, including production methods and carbon fiber recycling.

The partnership is a fitting one, as Boeing and BMW have both been pushing carbon fiber development in their respective industries. BMW has invested in carbon fiber producer SGL Group, and created the i3 and i8 concepts with heavy use of the material. Meanwhile, Boeing has developed the 787 Dreamliner (seen above), which is 50 percent carbon fiber.

The recycling of these materials, including recycling excess byproduct as well as the product at the end of its use, is essential. According to the press release below, the two companies will together look for ways to reclaim the material at the end of its product life.

Seattle, WA is the corporate home for Boeing, and is a little over 2.5 hours from BMW's Moses Lake facility. Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire helped BMW secure the location for that facility, and and played a roll in putting together this joint venture. "This exciting partnership between two global players was an industry win for our state," said Gregoire, "this will help Washington further develop our capabilities and leadership position in the game-changing technology of carbon fiber."

This development will hopefully yield less expensive production methods, and the proliferation of carbon fiber material in both the aeronautical and automotive industries. Check out more on this development in the press release below.
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BMW GROUP AND BOEING TO COLLABORATE ON CARBON FIBER RECYCLING

Munich/Seattle. The BMW Group and Boeing signed a collaboration agreement to participate in joint research for carbon fiber recycling as well as share manufacturing knowledge and explore automation opportunities.

Both the BMW Group and Boeing are pioneering the use of carbon fiber in their products. With the release of the BMW i3 in late 2013, followed later by the BMW i8, the BMW Group will bring two vehicles with a carbon passenger cell onto the market for the first time and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is made up of 50 percent carbon fiber material. Recycling composite material at point of use and at the end of the product life therefore is essential to both companies.

"Boeing for us is a suitable partner for a collaboration in the field of carbon fiber", said Herbert Diess, Member of the Board of BMW AG for Development. "Boeing has many years of extensive experience using carbon fiber in the field of aviation, while the BMW Group has earned a significant competitive advantage through its use of special manufacturing methods for series production of carbon fiber parts. Through this cooperation we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions."

"This collaboration agreement is a very important step forward in developing the use and end use of carbon fiber materials," said Larry Schneider, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of Product Development, who represented Boeing at the signing in Seattle. "It is especially important that we plan for the end of life of products made from carbon fiber. We want to look at ways to reclaim and reuse those materials to make new products. Our work with the BMW Group will help us attain that goal."

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire was instrumental in securing the location for the BMW plant in Moses Lake and promoted the partnership between Boeing and the BMW Group.

"This exciting partnership between two global players and industry leaders is a win for our state," said Gregoire. "This will help Washington further develop our capabilities and leadership position in the game-changing technology of carbon fiber. I'm pleased that BMW and Boeing have joined forces as this is a logical next step for the industry."

As part of the collaboration agreement, Boeing and the BMW Group will share carbon fiber manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation. The collaboration agreement between the two companies is the first in the history of either company.

As part of its SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC joint venture, the BMW Group has built a new, state-of-the-art carbon fibre plant in Moses Lake, Washington (USA), together with the SGL Group. The plant is an important component in both companies' strategy to automate production of ultra-light carbon fibre reinforced plastics for use in future vehicle concepts. The carbon fibres produced in Moses Lake will be used exclusively for the BMW Group's BMW i3 and BMW i8.

The facility in Wackersdorf makes the carbon fibres into fabrics, which are processed at the Landshut plant to make lightweight CFRP body components for the BMW i3, which will be assembled at the BMW Plant Leipzig.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      rmkensington
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wide spread, cheap carbon fiber could be the next big thing in auto's. Imagine your current car with 600 pounds less weight. Great MPG and faster!
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rmkensington
        It would be like a car from the 1990s. With much better drivetrain technology.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Wasp
          Why? What did they add?
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Wasp
          Have they really added that much weight since the 90's? Probably since the 80's.
        789dm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rmkensington
        Yay i could eat more burgers ;)
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        BMW's new carbon fiber factory is in Moses Lake, WA (USA). Boeing also has a large presence there for testing airplanes. They probably keep running into each other at Starbucks.
        protovici
        • 2 Years Ago
        Airbus is not even on the same playing field as Boeing. Good work for the both.
          john m
          • 2 Years Ago
          @protovici
          With all due respect, you have no idea what you're talking about. Airbus and Boeing both make an excellent product. Both are reliable and efficient. Both companies may have different philosophies on how to build an airplane but both do the job very well. Granted Boeing came out with their 787 before Airbus is coming out with their A-350 but to say that Airbus is not on the same playing field as Boeing.... That's an ignorant comment.
          john m
          • 2 Years Ago
          @protovici
          I do agree 100 percent with your previous comment however. I too think it's a great idea.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Carbon Fiber is great but can they get the cost down? You can hide such high costs in a jumbo jet, especially since there is a big pay-back in fuel savings. But it is harder to hide the higher cost in a car. It is really hard to compete with stamped metal panels that are created in seconds.
        789dm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Mass produce always help cost down. Now just need some cheap mass producing country that could lower that cost (hopefully not China again)
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @789dm
          Mass production generally helps everything. But it is pretty tough to apply to composite materials. They need to have a cure time. They are working on reducing the cure time but it still takes a while. Of course you can address this by doing many in parallel. However, this requires a lot of space and a lot of expensive molds. So it ends up still being pretty expensive. But they are getting better at it.
      mbukukanyau
      • 2 Years Ago
      As far as I can tell, all major auto manufacturers are racing towards this goal.
      Tiberius1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      Love the Seven-Eight..she has had her teething pains, but an aircraft that is so game changing is bound to. Great news about the co-op too!
      JonZeke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually, Boeing is headquartered here, in Chicago. They have their own skyscraper even. They moved here in '01. Not really sure why, but you guys can use Wikipedia next time.
        Tiberius1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JonZeke
        But they don't build or engineer anything there, do they??
          Tiberius1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tiberius1701
          @john m.. What I meant is Boeing does not do (as far as I am aware) any production and perhaps very little engineering in Chicago. Being an aviation enthusiast I am fully cognizant that Boeings plants in Renton and Everett make the best airliners in the world, and I am pretty sure that between them and Boeing Field is where you will find the bulk of their engineering offices. Chicago is corporate operations for the most part. Any corrections are gladly accepted.
          john m
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tiberius1701
          @Capt. Kirk :) Yes, they still do. I know Boeing does a lot of engineering here in the USA, I don't know if they do all of it here in the USA but I know at least a large amount of the engineering is done here. As far as building parts like wings, fuselage, engines, landing gear etc, that stuff is built in a bunch of different countries. Then those parts are shipped to Washington state and South Carolina for final assembly. From what I understand, there are different reasons as to why Boeing does this. Everything from wanting to bust machinist unions to just wanting to spread the work to a bunch of different countries so that the airlines in those countries hopefully buy the planes they helped to build. I hope that helps a little.
          john m
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tiberius1701
          Sorry, I missed the Chicago part. You're right, I believe it's just their corporate offices. I don't know how much engineering they do there if any. I would imagine the engineers are near where final assembly takes place so they can at least take a look at what they're designing and design fixes to certain problems that arise.
        Josh
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JonZeke
        You can also try to learn the corporate culture before commenting. Everyone knows the airboys in the pac northwest hate running everything by 'corporate' on wacker Drive. All the smartest engineers in the company prefer being in Seattle and usually are.
          JonZeke
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Josh
          "Seattle, WA is the corporate home for Boeing" I don't like it any more than you do, but this is what AB said and they're wrong. They could've written any number of other statements like: "Seattle is Boeing's ancestral home", or "home to their world-class engineering departments" etc. But they didn't. This is what the comment is for. It has nothing to do with corporate culture. No one likes "corporate culture". I prefer Seattle myself. Read the post next time.
      protovici
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cutting the cost of production, but also finding a solution for the recycling of the carbon fiber will make safer products and more efficient. Love it.
      carfan
      • 2 Years Ago
      no wonder BMW went to Boeing for help, in lieu of Airbus which is still in the 'Bakelite' phase. I just hope Boeing is smart enough not to give too much of their technology away to the germans.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      D
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey Smartypants, Corporate headquaters for Boeing is now in Chicago not Seattle. A bulk of manufacturing, testing and deliveries are still in the Seattle area.
      Groagun
      • 2 Years Ago
      I haven't read all the comments but some of you have asked about production in the USA. Besides Washington, the state of South Carolina holds both production facilities for BMW, in Spartanburg, and Boeing in Charleston.
      Cruising
      • 2 Years Ago
      Boeing should co-develope a car with BMW to stick it to Alan for leaving when they needed him the most. lol Jokes aside but in the future the average consumer might soon be able to purchase not only cars but other items like laptops, smart-phones, appliances, etc…made entirely of carbon fiber for dirt cheap.
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