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Joint project focuses on improved automotive composites

September 6th, 2016 / By: / Industry News

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), in partnership with DuPont Performance Materials, Fibrtec Inc. and Purdue University, has announced 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.

The Knoxville, Tenn.-based institute is a partnership of industry, universities, national laboratories and federal, state and local governments working 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.

Multiple factors, including cost and design constraints, present barriers to the adoption of composites in high-volume automotive applications, the institute notes in a press release. This project will address both of these 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 prepreg 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 lower manufacturing costs. 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 prepreg has also been shown to have good draping behavior in molding experiments. Researchers in Purdue’s Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center will work with the team to model and validate drapability and part performance.