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SPE Automotive Composites Conference Graduate Scholarship Award Winners

14 September 2008

For the second year, two graduate students and their schools have been awarded scholarships as part of the SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition scholarship program.

The scholarships are for $2,000 USD each to support new research in polymer composites with relevance to ground transportation.

Uday Sharma of University of Michigan-Dearborn (Dearborn, Mich.) will use his scholarship funds for research on Analysis of Thermoplastic Woven Composites at High- Strain Rates. In explaining the scope of his project, Sharma says: “In recent years, composite materials have increasingly replaced conventional materials in aerospace, marine, civil, and automotive industries as a result of their high specific stiffness, strength, superior corrosion resistance, and low coefficient of thermal expansion. It is important to determine the properties of these composites under dynamic loading for further development in the automotive industry. The objective of the research would be the in-depth study of mechanical behaviour shown by thermoplastic woven composites under high strain rates. The research will additionally investigate using a state-of-the-art, non-contact strain measurement system (ARAMIS 3D) to determine the effect of fibre angle and woven architecture on the mechanical behaviour of thermoplastic woven composites.”

Tobias Potyra of Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology (Pfinztal, Germany) will use his scholarship for work on New Direct Processing Technology for the Manufacture of SMC Parts (Direct-SMC). Discussing his project, Potyra says: “Class A exterior body panels for the automotive industry are often manufactured from sheet-moulding compound (SMC). The conventional process can result in fluctuations in the quality of the semi-finished material and therefore also in component quality. Also, since it is discontinuous, it may take several days (or longer) before results of formulation changes can be determined. However, the new direct-SMC process – a continuous process where raw material is converted directly into a moulded part within minutes of compounding – avoids many of the previous restrictions and makes it possible to establish a control loop in order to assure high and consistent SMC quality. As a result, both scrap and rework are reduced, improving component costs. The scientific challenges in this project are to establish an integrated process – from raw material to moulded part – for SMC applications for the automotive industry. The industrial challenges are to meet automotive market requirements of fast cycle times for high-volume production and to produce high-quality material that meets performance requirements consistently.”

This is the second year conference organizers have offered scholarships. In 2007, two awards were made in honour of journalist and composites-industry insider, Steve Loud who passed away in 2006.






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