MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Based on its recent analysis of the automotive carbon fiber market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Zoltek Companies, Inc. (Zoltek) with the "2013 North American Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Award" for its unique commercial carbon fiber, Zoltek Panex® 35. Aimed at addressing the key automotive industry challenge of lightweighting, this best-in-class product offers all the features desired by the automotive industry: low and stable pricing, product consistency at high volume, and superior electrical and mechanical properties.
Partnerships with Zoltek can be a tremendous value addition to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) seeking to manufacture lightweight vehicles. Automotive companies find it easier to comply with the U.S. government's stringent fuel economy standards by employing Panex® 35.
Panex® 35 is produced through a combination of a textile fiber precursor with a distinctive, high-throughput process. Zoltek introduces these carbon fibers with specially developed sizing chemistries in high-volume sheet molding compounds (SMC), thermoplastic compounded products and continuous fiber tapes, fabrics for resin transfer molding (RTM), and fast-curing prepreg systems.
The fiber is available in various forms, including continuous tow, chopped fiber, milled fiber, carbon fabrics and felts, prepreg tapes, and pultruded profiles. In a chopped fiber product format, the Panex® 35 fiber is compounded with generic thermoplastic resins such as polycarbonate (PC) and high-temperature thermoplastic resins such as polyether ether ketone (PEEK) and polyetherimide (PEI) for higher strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios than competing incumbent products.
"Panex® 35 commercial-grade carbon fiber stands out in terms of capacity, quality, consistency and low cost (< $19/kg)," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sunney Fotedar. "Panex® 35 applied to sheet molding compound applications enables the production of lighter parts and improved surface finish."
Zoltek, along with several partners, has developed low-cost thermoplastic tape products, specifically for high-volume applications, where localized areas of stiffening are required in combination with injection molding processes. This enables the production of low-cost and structurally optimized composite parts.
Another compelling feature of the Panex® 35 is that it has better mechanical and electrical properties compared to competing products. Zoltek's 50K carbon fiber Panex® 35 demonstrates enhanced tensile strength and higher modulus of elasticity and volume resistivity. This indicates that it is more suitable for use in the functional components in automobiles.
Zoltek has also developed a new low-cost Epoxy TowPreg for dry winding of CNG tanks. This product has found uptake among companies seeking to manufacture hood and trunk inner structures, traditionally manufactured using stitch preforms.
"Zoltek's competitive advantage, derived through its strong position in the wind energy industry, will enable the company to deliver value to its customers," noted Fotedar. "Even though Panex® 35 has higher material costs than steel and glass fiber, it can substantially lower tooling, maintenance, and machinery costs, and ultimately, increase the profit margin for the customers."
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed an innovative element in a product by leveraging leading-edge technologies. The award recognizes the value-added features/benefits of the product and the increased ROI it offers customers, which, in turn, increases customer acquisition and overall market penetration potential.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
About Zoltek Companies, Inc.
Zoltek Companies, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiaries, engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of carbon fiber and carbon fiber application solutions for industries including wind energy, automotive, oil exploration, CNG, infrastructure, marine, and more. They sell commercial grade carbon fiber under the Panex trade name and our oxidized acrylic fiber under the Pyron trade name. Their operations are primarily in the United States, Mexico, and Europe and they sell their products worldwide. With an expanding global capacity, sustainable pricing, and intermediate product development, Zoltek has become the worldwide leader in commercial carbon fiber. To learn more about Zoltek, please visit www.zoltek.com.
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