PORT ANGELES — The Composite Recycling Technology Center recently developed the first car seat back out of recycled carbon fiber composite alongside UK-based ELG Carbon Fibre.
The Composite Recycling Technology Center (CRTC) in Port Angeles handled product development, while ELG Carbon Fibre provided the carbon fiber and unveiled the project at the Automotive Lightweight Materials Summit in Detroit on Aug. 22-24.
CRTC employees did not attend the summit. However, Chief Executive Officer Dave Walter said the demonstration at the summit — attracting major automobile manufacturers — drew interest to the center from afar.
“It really put us on the map,” Walter said. “This is going to open some doors.”
A seat back constructed of carbon fiber weighs about four times less than one made partly with steel, he said. Walter said that’s a “worthy pursuit” for car manufacturers looking to cut out weight anywhere they can to improve fuel economy.
The CRTC molded the fiber with nylon 6 resin in a hot compression cycle to create the 24-inch-tall, 18-inch-wide bucket-style seat back, according to a news release.
Future of seat backs
So far, the CRTC has received one request for a quote on seat backs since the demonstration and expects one more, Walter said, but they aren’t likely to start selling them anytime soon.
“We aren’t there yet,” Walter said. “It’s not like now that we’ve made one, we’ll be rolling out a hundred.”
As for potential seat back sales in the future, Walter said, “That would certainly be one of the biggest [projects] if it came to pass.”
As the center prepares for self-sufficiency in 2018, when the Port of Port Angeles will cease its funding, the CRTC looks to expand its products and generate sales beyond its first product: pickleball paddles.
Projects in the pipeline include city benches, a hockey stick and an industrial brace.
CRTC engineers are working on two prototype city benches to be tested in the elements around late October or early November, Walter said.
The city will reimburse the CRTC for up to $10,000 in costs, or $5,000 per bench. The $10,000 will be drawn from an approximately $20,000 park bench maintenance fund.
Engineers are also working on prototypes for a carbon fiber hockey stick, Walter said, and the center aims to begin selling its industrial brace around November.
To scale up its production, the CRTC plans to double its staff from 17 to 34 by the end of 2018. Most of those open positions would fill engineering and production needs, Walter said. Currently, the center has five engineers and one production employee, he said.
Reporter Sarah Sharp can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected].