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IACMI announces project to enable thermoplastic composite parts manufacturing

News International-French

19 Aug 2016

The Composites Institute Announces Project to Enable Thermoplastic Composite Parts Manufacturing for High Volume, Low Cost, Reduced Weight Automotive Components with Increased Design Flexibility

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, IACMI, in partnership with DuPont Performance Materials, Fibrtec Inc. and Purdue University announces the launch of the first project selected with a dual focus on decreasing the cost of manufacture and increasing design flexibility for automotive composites.  Advancements in both areas can open up new opportunities and become an enabler for large scale deployment of composite parts.

Multiple factors, including cost and design constraints, present barriers to the adoption of composites in high volume automotive applications. This new IACMI project will address both of these critical areas through a fundamentally different approach to the manufacturing of carbon fiber composites versus those currently in use today. The work will build on synergies of differentiated technologies. Flexible coated tow manufactured by Fibrtec will be formed into flexible fabric prepregs using a Rapid Fabric Formation (RFF) technology along with a proprietary polyamide resin both by DuPont. The final component will benefit from increased production speeds of the tow manufacturing process and the fabric forming process resulting in a lower cost of manufacture. Composite parts made by this process have been shown to have low voids and good mechanical properties when consolidated by traditional techniques. The flexible fabric prepregs have also been shown to have good draping behavior in molding experiments. Researchers in the Purdue University Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center will work with the team to model and validate drapability and part performance.High cycle time for production of continuous carbon fiber thermoplastic composites increases costs.  The use of emerging materials for impregnation and new approaches for tow coating and fabric formation are expected to significantly lower production costs of high volume composites.

“By leveraging the strengths of all project partners, we have the potential to create a unique commercially viable path to high volume, low cost thermoplastic composite automotive components,” said Jan Sawgle, DuPont Performance Materials, Project Manager.

Industry partners have been enthusiastic to engage in project proposals to leverage IACMI resources and collaborate with members on the deployment of high impact advanced composites. 

“By partnering with industry to solve manufacturing challenges, we’re advancing clean energy innovations that will help propel United States manufacturing and competitiveness,” said Craig Blue, IACMI-The Composites Institute CEO.

About IACMI-The Composites Institute: The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), managed by the Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation (CCS), is a partnership of industry, universities, national laboratories, and federal, state and local governments working together to benefit the nation’s energy and economic security by sharing existing resources and co-investing to accelerate development and commercial deployment of advanced composites. CCS is a not-for-profit organization established by The University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The national institute is supported by a $70 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and over $180 million committed from IACMI’s partners.