Carbo-Link, established in 2000 in Switzerland, emerged from EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) as a commercial venture. Renowned for expertise in Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) structures, Carbo-Link has been a pioneer in this field since 1993. Carbo-Link focuses on creating CFRP components for various sectors like aerospace, infrastructure, industry, and marine, and has held an AS9100D Aerospace & Defense Certification since 2016.

At its core, the company aims to improve global infrastructure’s structural efficiency and sustainability with durable, effective, and cost-efficient CFRP solutions. These solutions are designed for both new constructions and the restoration of existing structures, enhancing sustainability through durability and optimal performance. Carbo-Link has led the way in CFRP technology over the past two decades, with significant achievements including the first CFRP pendants for Liebherr’s cranes in 2003 and the groundbreaking Stadtbahnbrucke railway bridge, fully supported by CFRP cables, which won the Deutscher Ingenieurbaupreis in 2022.

What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Carbo-Link AG excels in producing CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer) structural elements, catering to various sectors, including aerospace, infrastructure, industry, and marine. Their expertise is primarily in carbon-based tension elements, which find versatile applications in several areas. These include marine rigging for luxury yachts and competitive race boats, load-bearing pendants for heavy-duty cranes, and various civil engineering cables. Their innovative products are integral to network arch bridges (CL-BRIDGE), bridge pretensioning and reinforcement (CL-FLEX), strengthening of existing structures (CL-RESTRAP), and substituting steel in concrete to create slender, lightweight constructions (CL-PREBAR).

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

Carbo-Link’s recent innovative CL-BRIDGE has already been successfully implemented in two German bridges, showcasing the benefits of selecting the right materials for sustainable, cost-effective, and refined construction. CL-BRIDGE stands out for its superior fatigue properties, allowing it to handle maximum tensile forces more efficiently than steel cables while reducing the cable’s cross-sectional area by approximately 80%. This reduction leads to better load distribution, consistent performance, and elimination of load peaks. Additionally, the lightweight nature of CFRP results in a significant decrease in weight, up to 25 times less than traditional materials.

The advantages of CL-BRIDGE extend further:

  1. It enables a lighter bridge superstructure without compromising on necessary qualities, leading to shorter design and construction periods, as well as considerable cost savings.
  2. The ease of cable/hanger installation streamlines construction, reducing both the time and resources needed, thus lowering overall ownership costs and minimising traffic disruptions during construction.

Furthermore, the non-corrosive quality of CFRP in CL-BRIDGE greatly increases its lifespan, lessening the frequency of maintenance and service throughout the cable’s life, further decreasing the total cost of ownership.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

  • Tension members 
  • Bridge cables (CL-BRIDGE)
  • Crane pendants (CL-CRANE)
  • Shear Reinforcement (CL-RESTRAP)
  • Linkages and Toggles (CL-TOGGLE)
  • Tubes
  • Truss tubes
  • Torque tubes

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

Carbo-Link operates in diverse sectors, providing structural components for the marine, aerospace, industry, and infrastructure markets. Composite solutions are widely embraced in the marine and aerospace sectors, where significant innovation and development occur. In contrast, the industrial and infrastructure markets are slower to adopt composites, with their use primarily limited to a small portion of highly innovative and groundbreaking projects.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

Composite materials are increasingly becoming the norm in marine and aerospace industries and are gaining traction in sectors like crane manufacturing and infrastructure due to their performance-enhancing qualities. Their low density and superior fatigue properties make them particularly suitable for cranes, especially in offshore applications where they can lift heavier loads or reach greater heights with durable, corrosion-resistant pendants.

In infrastructure, engineers actively seek solutions that are more durable and less carbon-intensive than traditional options. There’s a growing discussion about incorporating CO2 emissions from the construction process and related activities like traffic congestion as monetary factors in the bidding and negotiation phases. Consequently, the ease of installation and the weight of materials are crucial decision-making factors, and here, composite materials excel due to their low weight, high strength, and ease of installation.

Moreover, the construction industry is showing a readiness for innovation, particularly in using modern materials like composites. The focus is increasingly on reinforcing and renovating existing structures rather than new constructions, learning from past errors and using the most suitable materials for each application.

This is where composites stand out, particularly in addressing common failures caused by corrosion and fatigue in older structures. Materials like CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer) are corrosion-resistant and exhibit excellent fatigue properties, making them ideal for prolonging the life and reliability of various structures.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

Carbo-Link’s “CL-BRIDGE” is the most groundbreaking product to date, boasting several benefits over similar market offerings. This innovative solution effectively addresses fatigue issues, which results in decreased CO2 emissions and reduced costs. Additionally, its design allows faster and more efficient mounting and installation, minimising disruption during these processes.

E.E: What estimations do you have for the rest of 2023?

For the rest of 2023, Carbo-Link is concentrating on gaining a deeper understanding of the infrastructure market’s requirements, devising strategies to enter this traditionally conservative market, and identifying essential certifications and approvals needed for broader market expansion.