European Plastics News is holding its first Automotive Thermoplastic Composites conference in Stuttgart on 7-8 May. The programme includes speakers from car makers, Tier One suppliers and plastics companies leading the drive in this exciting new area.
The BMW i3 and i8 cars have shown the desire of car manufacturers to use composites for lightweighting, replacing metal in structural and semi-structural parts. Most composites are carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), where a thermoset epoxy, not a thermoplastic, is the most common base plastic. But manufacturing times are many minutes long – using thermoplastics could cut these cycle times and costs, bringing composites within reach of volume car production.
At the conference, Frédéric Sicard, composite and lightweight innovation leader at PSA Peugeot Citroen, will discuss the French car giant’s development of a thermoplastic composite structural body-in-white part.
Brunetto Martorana, project manager for polymers innovation at Centro Ricerche Fiat, said he is looking forward to the conference, where he expects to “get contact and exchange information with different actors of the value chain of thermoplastic composites”.
Mecaplast has placed itself at the leading edge of the plastics industry’s development of automotive composites. It is working on multiple projects including Mapicc 3D, which is developing an automated process for speedy production of upgraded composites based on 3D textile structures using thermoplastics. Mecaplast R&D engineers Philippe Pineau and Guillaume Huguet will present this and other projects for engine parts, body panels and semi-structural applications.
The car’s underbody is the subject of a presentation by Egon Moos, product manager at Röchling.
Another leading plastics company, GA Röders, is represented by managing partner Andreas Röders speaking on glass and carbon fibre reinforcement and the implications for injection moulding. He said that at most composites conferences “presentations just show new materials or their applications, but the very important step of processing is mostly not discussed”. So Röders will present the injection moulder’s viewpoint in his presentation.
Peter Fuss of Ernst & Young will look at how thermoplastic composites fit into the bigger picture of automotive trends.
Ignaas Verpoest, professor in the Composite Materials Group at the University of Leuven, said that at the conference he is aiming “to meet OEMs and Tier Ones whom I want to convince of the advantages of our technology”.
“We have just completed a large European Research program (HIVOCOMP), which focused on applications of composites in automotive. I want to share the results with an interested audience.”
Verpoest said his presentation will discuss the properties and potential use of a new type of thermoplastic composite: self-reinforced PP- and PA-composites hybridised with carbon fibres, providing a unique combination of stiffness and toughenss.
IKV, Fraunhofer IPT and other leading materials institutes are also on the programme.
Composites UK is a media supporter of this event.