NetComposites
Advanced Engineering 2018

AZL Establishes a Workgroup on High-performance SMC

01 January 0001

AZL Establishes a Workgroup on High-performance SMC

AZL Aachen has established a Workgroup on High-Performance Sheet Molding Compound (SMC).

Within an initial AZL Workshop, more than 60 participants from the industry – including several automotive OEMs such as Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, MAN, Toyota and Volkswagen – defined research and development topics for the future AZL Workgroup.

AZL explains that, at last year’s Annual Partner Meeting, the Partner Companies had indicated SMC as a major topic to increase collaboration. Following this request, it organised the initial Workshop, in which companies such as Plastic Omnium, BYK-Chemie, Menzolit, Polynt, Huntsman, Polytech Composites, 3M and Henkel discussed the potential of SMC for the lightweight industry. The workshop was initiated and co-ordinated together with Plastic Omnium and BYK-Chemie.

Mark Zimmermann, Product Line Director of the Plastic Omnium Auto Exterior Division, said, “To future-proof SMC, we need performances comparable to other materials such as Aluminum as well as SMC applications suitable for class A surfaces. We are looking forward to regularly working with the AZL Partner Companies and Institutes on this next generation of High-Performance SMC in the Workgroup.”

In comparison to other materials, AZL explains that SMC is determined by a high number of interdependencies between material and processes which are both challenge and potential. Especially the adaption of the material formulation concerning processing and application offers great potential to improve the efficiency.

Dr. Götz Krüger, Head of Special Project ‘Advanced Composites’ at BYK-Chemie, explains, “Our specialties contribute in nearly all SMC formulations to improved processing and part performance. Due to the increasing relevance of new carbon fibre reinforced and density-reduced SMC types, the close collaboration between material science, production technology and end-users within the workgroup will offer a lot of potential for innovation to increase the competitiveness of SMC against other lightweight materials”.

The participants defined material characterisations of various SMC types, methods for fast and reliable pre-design of components and processes, an improved bonding of reinforcing fibres to the resin matrix as well as the development of new resins as most important subjects for future research and development activities.

Dr. Kai Fischer, Managing Director of AZL Aachen and Scientific Director at the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV), said, “In the context of cost-effective lightweight production, SMC materials and products have been one major topic within more than three decades of research at RWTH Aachen University, especially at the IKV. The initiation of the workgroup in combination with the beginning installation of the 1.800 t press system of Schuler Pressen at the Aachen Center for integrative Lightweight Production, will be an important milestone to further improve the cost and lightweight potential of SMC.”

According to AZL, the newly established Workgroup will meet regularly to continuously work on these topics. To start with, it will propose a study to benchmark available simulation software as well as a Joint Partner Project to develop a tool box for material characterisation of various SMC types. Furthermore, a concept to present the Workgroup activities with a Business Platform will be presented at the next meeting.

Dr. Michael Effing, Senior Advisor of AZL Aachen, said, “For many years, Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) has been a first choice lightweight solution for replacing metal parts. Due to its unique cost performance on the one hand and the need for further weight savings to significantly reduce CO2 emissions on the other hand, the SMC technology is currently undergoing a new success. We are happy that our AZL Partner Network as well as a great number of industrial lightweight experts agree on the potential we see in SMC and have joined our initiative.”

The next meeting of the AZL workgroup will be on 30 June 2016 and will be exclusively for AZL Partner Companies.

At the initial AZL Workshop, more than 60 participants from the industry, representing the complete value chain from material suppliers to automotive OEMs, discussed the potential of SMC for the lightweight industry.

 


Photo provided by AZL Aachen