ESA BIC Blackwave: Innovative carbon fiber component production

23 April 2018

The ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) Bavaria start-up Blackwave has developed a highly automated process for the cost-efficient production of complex carbon fiber components. Meet them at ILA Future Lab ”FUEL FOR INNOVATION”.

The technology used is the Carbon Sheet Molding Compound (C-SMC), which is a compression molding process of a compound mixed of chopped carbon fiber and thermoset plastics. Forced by high pressure and heat, the material flows in its final shape.

This process solves many problems of conventional CFRP manufacturing methods, which can be mainly sorted into two groups: Production costs and design possibilities.

The process can be fully automated, which makes it stable and affordable for high production volumes. The cycle times for the molding process itself are under 3 minutes and the preforming effort is drastically reduced.

Cost-efficient and sustanable

Constructing carbon SMC

Beneficial side effect of the simplified plies for preforming and the net-shape geometries is that the waste is severely reduced. This is not only very cost efficient, but also very sustainable. Another ecological benefit is that there are nearly no consumables such as vacuum bagging films or hoses for resin transfer, as they are common in other production methods. This leads to an overall waste reduction of 95%. Furthermore, SMC is one of the most promising approaches to process recycled fibers.

Looking at the design possibilities there is much more freedom than using conventional, semi-finished textile products such as fabrics or tapes, which are bounded to more simple and flat geometries.

The flow of the compound enables complex features like ribs, stiffeners and changes in wall thickness. Moreover, manufacturing of blind holes and fits as well as co-molding of metallic inserts for threads is easy to integrate into the process, which has both mechanical and economic advantages.

Utilizing the C-SMC technology, Blackwave is able to offer the complete value chain from first concept, technology appropriate drafting, detailed component design to series manufacturing in our own plant.

Blackwave production work flow


Hosted at ESA BIC Bavaria

Blackwave is hosted at ESA´s Business Incubation Centre the company got access to aerospace laboratories and testing facilities.

“This helped us to test components and validate our simulations,” said Bastian Behrens from Blackware.

Carbon Sheet Molding Compound

“With the help of our close-kit network of trusted partners and advisors we are able to understand and meet quality standards of the automotive, aerospace and sporting goods industry.”

With excellent design possibilities and specific mechanical properties greater than aerospace grade aluminum, Blackwave serves a niche in the CFRP market with huge potential. There is a vast range of potential applications and customers in the aerospace, aviation, automotive and sporting goods sector. With its unique and aesthetic appearance C-SMC is as well attractive to lifestyle and luxury applications.

ESA Business Incubation Centres – ESA BICs

The Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Programme Office of the European Space Agency manages the Space Solutions Programme, which has created the world’s largest ecosystem for space related Entrepreneurship.

The 18 ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) support 160 companies per year and more than 600 new start-ups have so far been fostered.

Meet the most disruptive ESA start-ups together with Head of ESA Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Centre Office Frank M. Salzgeber, ESA BIC Manager Frank Zimmermann and Sabine Dannelke, the Head of Division Satellite Navigation/Galileo, Digitalization of Public Transport at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in Berlin, Germany.

ILA Future Lab at 2018 ILA Air Show FORUM Hall 2/204 26 April

Meet Blackwave at the ILA Future Lab ”FUEL FOR INNOVATION” taking place in the FORUM Hall 2/204 at 2018 ILA Air Show in Berlin, Thursday 26 April 13:15 – 14:45



Poul Nielsen
ESA Portal Editor
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