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IACMI announces discontinuous recycled carbon fiber project for automotive Class A surface finishes

News International-French

4 Oct 2017

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a 150+ member consortium committed to increasing domestic production capacity and manufacturing jobs across the U.S. composites industry, announces a project to develop processing and material technologies to create Class A surface finishes for the automotive industry via induction heating.

The project is led by BASF, with the project team including Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The goal of this technical collaboration is to develop processing and material technologies that provide automotive Class A surface appearance and suitable mechanical properties for automotive body panels by utilizing a thermoplastic resin matrix reinforced with discontinuous recycled carbon fiber.

“Thermoplastic materials offer many advantages in reducing weight, cost, and recyclability, but have not been used often in Class A surface finished because of the industry’s challenge to create products through injection molding that do not have a proper gap control and are not warped through the process,” said Soydan Ozcan, Senior R&D Scientist at ORNL and IACMI Composite Recycling Lead. “Through this project, end of life carbon fiber composite and scrap can be utilized in a high volume production stream that possesses significant potential for energy savings, carbon footprint reduction, and for developing global composites recycling,” Ozcan detailed.

The method developed by this process will open new opportunities for carbon fiber integration into the automotive field. “By utilizing advanced thermoplastic processing technologies, this project will allow us to lead the integration of recycled carbon fibers into Class A surfaces in the automotive industry,” said BASF Strategic Marketing Manager, Mohamed Bouguettaya.

“Integrating discontinuous recycled carbon fibers into automotive Class A surface finishes is a significant opportunity in the composites field. The key learnings from this project could help the automotive industry to more effectively design quality, ready-to-market surfaces, while also reducing cost and weight in vehicle production,” said Uday Vaidya, IACMI – The Composites Institute Chief Technology Officer and UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair in Advanced Composites Manufacturing.

Project outcomes are expected to enable private industry to innovate the manufacture process through advancement of material and process development in Class A surfaces.