One of the world’s largest vertically integrated steel and mining companies has invested in Airborne, a Dutch developer of digital automation platforms for the production of composite parts and products with integrated composites.
Severstal joins other investors in this investment round, including Pangaea Ventures, a leading advanced materials venture capital fund, and SABIC, the world’s third-largest diversified chemical company.
Airborne has developed and brought to market a set of digital technologies that increase the efficiency of carbon fibre composite production by automating the production process.
The company is in the process of commercialising automated production cells and software.
At its facilities in the Netherlands and the UK, Airborne manufactures composite products for sectors including the automotive, construction, shipbuilding, aerospace, electronics and wind power industries.
According to Airborne, use of automation cell technology can help reduce the cost of producing composite products and their development cycle while ensuring consistent quality at a high production speed.
Working with Severstal’s technical development and quality department, Airborne will examine the potential of integrated solutions based on composites and steel, and Severstal will offer its clients the opportunity to test these integrated solutions.
George Gogolev, head of Severstal Ventures, said: “We believe this technology could transform the composites market in the next five to seven years by significantly reducing the price of end products.
“This will impact the metal market by enabling us to offer our customers new materials with unique properties that are not currently achievable in steelmaking.
“For comparison, composites can be up to five times as strong, up to twice as tough, and up to four times less prone to fatigue, and also up to 75% lighter than steel.
“However, this does not mean that steel as a material will be completely replaced by composite analogues.
“On the contrary, we are convinced that, going forward, the greatest demand from key industries will be for a multi-material offer of composites containing a combination of materials, including steel.”
Arno van Mourik, CEO of Airborne, said he believes “this can be done by automating the manufacturing process, as well as by digitalising the full value chain to make design and manufacturing highly efficient, easy and flexible”.
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