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Interview of the DowDuPont Transportation & Advanced Polymers team

News International-French

17 Oct 2017

Be the first to read this exclusive interview and discover how the DowDuPont Transportation and Advanced Polymers team plans to address a few of the main challenges faced by the Automotive industry. Fabrice Giaume, who is part of the DowDuPont team, will present at JEC Automotive Forums on “How Thermoplastic Composites are Addressing the Broader Automotive Industry” on November 15th in Knoxville, TN, USA.

Fabrice Giaume, Technical Programs Leader Lightweighting, DowDuPont Transportation & Advanced Polymers team.
JEC US Composites Business Review (USCBR): What challenges is the auto industry facing where composites are concerned? What's missing? What are DuPont's solutions?

DowDuPont: As a solutions provider to the auto industry, DowDuPont Transportation and Advanced Polymers views digital developments, new regulations, and a shift in powertrain technologies as key drivers of change that necessitate alternate materials to address performance and lightweighting needs. One challenge for the industry is material selection to address the safety, performance and life cycle management needs at an acceptable total system cost.

Continuous Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic composites (CFRTP)are one of many materials available to design engineers to address lightweighting needs.  Building confidence, defining unique performance advantages compared with incumbents and establishing key elements of the supply chain are needed to build a foundation for growth with the emerging opportunity for high volume CFRTP composites in the auto industry. In combination with metals, these will be part of a multi-material approach when designing the car of the future, having “the right material at the right place”, assembled in the right way, designed with recyclability and sustainability in mind.

In addition, industry standards will serve to align methods for characterizing performance of CFRTP composites and will promote confidence in the material selection and performance. DowDuPont Transportation and Advanced Polymers has chosen to advance these efforts through collaborative networks and actively participates in consortia including IACMI (Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation) and AZL (Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production) where standardization is addressed along with collaborative teams focused on programs to demonstrate cost effective CFRTP composite production methods for high volume applications.

DowDuPont Transportation and Advanced Polymers brings not only material solutions but also the tools and expertise needed to design, process and validate new material options to meet customer’s lightweighting requirements. With a range of products that span the lightweight continuum, there is promise in the value and the benefit of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite solutions for application developments in various markets.

JEC USCBR: The auto sector has always been at the forefront where composites are concerned. Where do you see the next frontier? Do you believe composites will be used more in auto parts, body panels, engines, or elsewhere, for example?

DowDuPont: The next frontier for composites in general is to breakthrough barriers inhibiting the attainment of high volume manufacturing that meets the target cycle times at an affordable cost for the industry.  There are more demonstrations for semi-structural parts, that have a higher chance of meeting these goals at a lower risk level.  With this validation, the near term will likely capture a higher volume of peripheral auto parts with longer term targets to utilize the density-efficient nature of composites in structural body-in-white applications. 

One major advantage of CFRTP composites are their inherent ability to reach cycle times that were not thought possible before based on the thermoplastic matrix. With the right process, parts made with CFRTP composites can be competitive with metal-forming processes.

In addition, when Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) drives transportation design, CFRTP composites especially reinforced with glass fiber, will have an even higher chance to pave the way in the automotive industry since it is one of the most efficient lightweight materials from an LCA standpoint.

JEC USCBR: One of the reasons the industry has been dynamic in its use of composites is collaboration: experienced auto professionals were willing to work with composite engineers and manufacturers to make new products. This is not always the case in other industries. Do we still have people who dare? Do you still see this cooperation?

DowDuPont: No one company can transform the market alone.  A company who recognizes their core strength and connects with experts to create value adding solutions for customers will not only survive, but will thrive. 

The auto industry is undergoing a major transformation. As companies explore various options to address the future needs, collaboration has proven to be an effective way to discover the new possibilities for growth while leveraging risk. Education is a large part of collaboration, exchanging knowledge up and down, from the supplier to the OEM level helps team members to become proficient.

The preferred approach to new developments is through collaboration with strategic players throughout the value chain.  Other industries where we have experience with those who dare to dream big dreams are in the solar industry, CNG pressure vessels and consumer goods. We believe innovations in composite designs can be further driven in the non-auto markets with increased OEM collaborations.

The collaborative model has led to the successful development of valuable solutions over many years.  Now more than ever with the increasingly rapid pace of change in numerous markets, collaborative efforts are the most effective way to drive innovation.

Attend DowDuPont's presentation during JEC Forums, on November 15th in Knoxville, TN, USA.

Interview by Joshua Jampol.