UD tapes—the building blocks of the automobile of the future 

The automotive industry is continuously tasked with meeting tighter carbon dioxide emission standards and to extend the driving ranges of electric vehicles (EV). Government standards are becoming stricter, plus consumers want the ability to drive EVs longer distances before having to recharge the batteries.

Automotive companies are always on the lookout for new solutions to help meet these consumer demands and emission standards, and unidirectional tapes (UD tapes) may be the material of choice moving forward. UD tapes can decrease automobile emissions and extend the range of battery-operated vehicles, and UD tapes are up to 70% lighter than metal, yet equally strong and sustainable. The overall lifecycle use of the material is greener than metal materials—scraps are utilized to make other products and products made from UD tapes can be repurposed. 

Insights lead to portfolio and production line

From 2012-2016, DSM Engineering Materials participated in the European 7th Framework Program as the sole materials supplier and gained valuable insight into materials known as continuous, fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) UD tapes. The goal of the consortium project, sponsored by the European Union, was to accelerate development of new light weighting materials and processes for the automotive industry.

Participating in this program led to a portfolio of cost-competitive, carbon-fiber and glass-fiber reinforced polyamide UD tapes for applications up to 150oC temperature. The UD tape—the most basic building block of CFRP materials—consists of continuous fibers saturated with DSM engineering polymers to form thermoformable ribbons.

The ribbons can be slit to a desired width and then used to make pipes or cylinders in a winding process. They can also be stacked up to build plates that can be thermoformed to make various shapes and parts. As opposed to injection-molding materials that are also reinforced with chopped or discontinuous fibers, the CFRP materials are capable of wholesale replacement of metal in structural use, such as in automotive chassis components.

Not only does DSM offer a portfolio of UD tapes materials, this year we have started a production line in the Genk, Belgium, facility. The production line is capable of processing commodity polymers, such as polyolefins to high-temperature engineering polymers like PEEK. Currently, it is used for UD tapes based on DSM’s polyamide portfolio.

DSM also develops and specifies automatic tape placement, tape winding and tape-insert over molding. We offer computer aided engineering for part design and manufacturing process specifications, in-house macro and micro structural analysis of UD tapes, and bonding. Also, DSM has partnered with other industry OEMs and automotive tiers in the value chain to demonstrate UD tape applications to automotive end-users.

Learn more about how UD tapes can help reduce weight in your application — contact us today.


Raj Mathur

Global R&T Manager for Advanced Thermoplastic Composites

Published on

22 July 2019


  • Blog
  • Sustainability
  • Automotive
  • Lightweighting
  • Standards & regulations
  • Cost reduction & simplification

The DSMs automotive weight loss factory

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Raj Mathur

Global R&T Manager for Advanced Thermoplastic Composites

Raj Mathur has a Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering and an Executive MBA. His interest in advanced materials has led to the broader field of innovation management in engineering applications. He has patented applications in various industrial sectors, including aerospace and automotive. Currently, he is Global R&T Manager for Advanced Thermoplastic Composites, with a focus on creating a new class of materials for the rapidly evolving automotive sector.

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