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Carbon Team starts large-scale carbon frame production in Portugal

CAMPIA, Portugal – Set up as a joint-venture by three Portuguese bicycle component producers and some partners, Carbon Team's new carbon frame factory in Portugal has started large-scale production. Bike Europe visited this new European carbon serial production facility, which is already planning an on-site capacity of 25,000 units by 2024.

To bring mass production of carbon fiber frames to Europe this trade journal reported on how Rodi Rims & Wheels, Miranda Bike Parts and Ciclo Fapril, had joined forces with Bike Ahead Composites (Germany) and Art Collection (Taiwan) last March. With an initial investment of €8.4 million, the 9,000 square meter factory was officially inaugurated in July 2021.

Built up from scratch since 2018

Similar to the Portuguese aluminium frame manufacturer, Triangle’s Cycling Equipments, Carbon Team relies on highly automated production at its factory based in a new industrial zone of Campia near Vouzela, 30 km northeast of Águeda. Why in Campia and not Águeda? “One reason is employees. In Águeda, it’s hard to find employees. It’s easier here,” explains Carbon Team General Manager Emre Ozgunes. Born in Turkey, Ozgunes has been living and working in Portugal for 20 years – and has worked at Ciclo Fapril, among other companies.

With the Carbon Team project, he was attracted to the task of building up something virtually from scratch: “Carbon Team was officially founded in 2018. The factory was built up in 2019 and I came on board. At the end of 2020, we got started with a first frame project in cooperation with All Ahead Composites. Since then, we’ve produced 400 to 500 hardtail carbon frames and forks. All molds for these frames in all sizes were made in Portugal.”

Read more from Bike Europe’s Portugal series:

True monocoque

Carbon Team’s open-mold hardtail full carbon frame weighs in at a mere featherweight 775 grams (for frame size M) and is certified by the German testing institute EFBE. Ozgunes explains what else sets it apart: “The biggest difference to most carbon frames from the Far East is that this is a true monocoque frame. No glue is used in our production process. The surface quality is so good that finishing becomes a minor issue. We have deliberately dispensed off a paint shop, but if a customer does insist on it, we can order it from Triangle’s.”

In 2021, a number of projects have been initiated together with the first bike suppliers. Among them is a full-suspension e-bike carbon frame. The first road bike carbon frames are to follow later. Carbon cranks as well as wheels are also being considered: “After all, with shareholder Rodi we have a profound wheel producer behind us,” confirms Ozgunes.

Production expectation

For 2022, Ozgunes and team expect annual production of 3,500 units. By 2023, the plan is to raise this to 10,000 carbon frames. And looking ahead to 2024, the Carbon Team managing director is talking about 25,000 units and 120 employees. The upper capacity limit of the factory is to be 55,000 units. That could possibly be reached as early as 2025. If demand should go beyond that, the Portuguese have already made provisions as the land on which the factory is located can easily accommodate another production facility of around 7,000 square meters.

Carbon Team sees itself as a pure contract manufacturer (OEM): “That’s what we’re going to focus on. We want to bring the carbon frame production back to Europe on a larger scale.” Carbon Team’s key markets are Germany and Italy followed by Switzerland, France and Spain. To date, Carbon Team has four clients. They are joined by five customers who buy small quantities of the open-mold frames.

Extensive automation

At the time of Bike Europe’s visit in early November 2021, Carbon Team employed just 25 people. “In March, there were only three of us!” laughs Ozgunes. Overall, his company relies on a production line with extensive automation for serial production. According to All Ahead Composites Managing Director Christian Gemperlein, this actually saves costs. He says it’s all a question of quantities – quantities that his small forge in Veitshöchheim, near Würzburg, could never achieve.

The production expertise of his company is now used at Carbon Team. All Ahead Composites’ pre-impregnated fibres (prepregs) are used in Portugal. These are cut to size by CNC layer cutting machines. The cut fibres are then inserted into the molds, which are then placed in one of five gas-tight pressure vessels (autoclaves). Nine molds are baked per autoclave for three hours each. That is all the information that Carbon Team is prepared to reveal. Emre Ozgunes and his team are enthusiastic about what they see as a precise production process: “The exact automation process we use is our secret,” he adds.

Traceability and no hand-wrapping

A keyword for Carbon Team is traceability, something that is also becoming increasingly important in the bicycle industry. During the production process they place a unique QR code on each carbon layer. This is more doable as the monocoque production process in Campia requires fewer carbon cuts in comparison with the Asian process. So, if there should ever be a problem, Carbon Team can trace everything back exactly with the help of this QR code.

Employees are taught how to put the carbon layers into the molds; no hand-wrapping. If there are any questions each employee has his own tablet so he can look up the answer or ask for face-to-face-help if necessary. “Depending on the problem that arises, a respective specialist comes to solve it,” says Ozgunes. Since the so-called hand-wrapping is completely eliminated, the insertion process into the mold is relatively simple, he says: “So we can quickly train people here.”

Fonte: https://www.bike-eu.com/production/nieuws/2022/01/carbon-team-starts-large-scale-carbon-frame-production-in-portugal-10142036


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