Can the automotive trade flip to face the change?: CompositesWorld


automotive composites

Cynthia Flanigan, chief engineer of Automobile Analysis & Know-how for Ford Motor Co. discusses “Driving Automotive Supplies Ahead.”  Photograph | Mark Richardson, Society of Plastics Engineers

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE, Bethel, Conn., U.S.) held its 19th annual Automotive Composites Convention & Exhibition (ACCE) in Novi, Michigan, Sept. 4-6. The theme of the convention was “Composites — Forming the Way forward for Transportation Worldwide,” and far of the programming mirrored a rising curiosity from transportation OEMs within the function composites applied sciences can play in next-generation mobility.

The convention kicked off with a keynote from Cynthia Flanigan, chief engineer of Automobile Analysis & Know-how for Ford Motor Co. (Dearborne, Mich., U.S.), who mentioned “Driving Automotive Supplies Ahead.” The keynote speculated about potential modifications in the best way society makes use of autos.  World inhabitants and overcrowding of city areas are pushing us towards a must reshape our modes of transportation and method mobility in a really totally different method than society has up to now. Many theorize that we’re transferring from a society primarily based on particular person car possession to at least one the place carsharing and e-mobility may signify the lion’s share of the automotive market. Flanigan targeted on 5 key areas which are driving change within the trade: sustainability, rising supplies, additive manufacturing, superior processes and design, and synthetic intelligence.

From decreasing ocean plastic and atmospheric CO2 to using blockchain know-how to hyperlink knowledge, observe supplies and allow sorting and recycling, to trying to nature for inspiration in new supplies, Flanigan spoke of sustainability and accountability to the atmosphere as a key driver of know-how developments. She spoke of rising supplies as an enabler for the long run, pointing to supplies corresponding to graphene and aerogels, contributing to lightweighting and bettering the patron expertise by way of noise dampening. She spoke of advances in additive manufacturing and the know-how’s function within the composites house, providing the chance for increased throughput and developments in processing. She summed up the potential of superior processes, design and synthetic intelligence saying, “We on the cusp of [being able] to make the most of enabling applied sciences which are blooming.”

A featured speak from Clay Maranville of Ford Motor Co., echoed most of the concepts from Flanigan’s keynote with a concentrate on automotive interiors. Maranville checked out megatrends affecting mobility from shopper conduct corresponding to carsharing to such trade developments as additive manufacturing, generative design, embedded sensors, and blockchain. He indicated a shift in design considering is occurring and that automotive inside design is changing into more and more targeted on the patron expertise and the methods that’s evolving. 


automotive composites

This flame retardant battery field cowl constructed of phenolic SMC from Hexion retains 60-70% of its materials properties after aggressive hearth testing.  CW Photograph | Scott Francis

The convention featured a distinguished programming observe on sustainability, which included 11 papers on matters referring to sustainability. There have been quite a few shows on applied sciences aimed toward enabling electrical autos. Sheet molding compounds (SMCs) aimed toward enabling battery techniques in electrical autos have been featured closely on the present. Pritesh Patel of Evonik (Parsippany, N.J., U.S.) mentioned an epoxy resin-based SMC battery case for electro-mobility autos. Ian Swentak of Hexion (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.) showcased a phenolic resin SMC-based battery field optimized for hearth resistance.

automotive composites

Gulay Sherhatkulu, senior vice chairman, Efficiency Supplies North America, BASF Corp.  CW Photograph | Scott Francis

Gulay Sherhatkulu, senior vice chairman, Efficiency Supplies North America, BASF Corp. (Wyandotte, Mich., U.S.) delivered the convention’s second keynote, portray an image of a brand new technology of shoppers largely comprised of a digital natives who’re much less involved with possession and extra involved with connectivity, consolation, comfort, environmental issues and sustainability. She spoke of a worth chain shifting from a concentrate on the tip shopper to fleet-based transportation corporations, and with this basic shift, modifications is R&D and design considering, and a must get merchandise to market extra quickly.

natural fiber composites

Bamboo honeycomb panel from BASF.  CW Photograph | Scott Francis

Elias Shakour, undertaking chief, Composites Applied sciences of BASF showcased an instance of growing structural pure fiber elements utilizing a sprig switch molding (STM) course of, yielding a honeycomb panel constructed of bamboo fiber and sustainable polyurethane resin system. 

Simply how drastically the panorama of automotive sector will change stays to be seen, nevertheless it’s clear that the trade is exploring what altering shopper conduct will imply for the way forward for automotive transportation. Rising populations and visitors congestion point out that the best way we journey as a society must evolve. A number of deas bandied about at SPE ACCE revolved round carsharing and included modular element designs to make elements simple to switch, supplies with low noise vibration and harshness (NVH), supplies with antibacterial qualities — all of which may imply a big function for composite supplies. 


automotive composites

The composites-intensive 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray  CW Photograph | Scott Francis

On the identical time, many individuals see particular person automobile possession as a part of our identification. The ultimate keynote at SPE ACCE was concerning the composites on the brand new Chevrolet Corevette Stingray, with its luxurious cockpit that wraps the driving force in an immersive console. Loads of composites have been employed within the new ‘Vette from main physique structural panels to underbody structural panels to class-A composite physique panels to air ducts to its carbon fiber pultruded rear bumper meeting. However the mindset is clearly fully totally different. For a lot of drivers, a private reference to the automobile stays, and it’s a secure guess that carmakers will proceed to capitalize on that connection so long as they’ll.

So, the questions stay. How shortly will massive teams of the inhabitants transition to carsharing and new options for mobility? How many individuals will cling to their vehicles? What’s going to the auto trade seem like within the coming many years? Solely time will inform.


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