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The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) participated in the Washington Automotive Press Association’s (WAPA) Automotive Materials Panel on June 18 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the benefits of using composites in vehicles.
Keith T. Bihary, chairman of ACMA’s Automotive Composites Alliance (ACA) and corporate sales manager at Molded Fiber Glass Companies, Ashtabula, Ohio, was one of four panelists representing materials organizations that are key to light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel economy, safety and affordability.
Representing the composites industry, Bihary discussed the growing advantages of specifying composites in automotive design and the importance of educating automotive engineers. He said that because OEMs still rely heavily on steel, composites are not yet treated as a peer, but as a subordinate material. ACA is working to change this. He cited ACA’s recent study of a prototype hybrid sedan that demonstrated how, in numerous hybrid vehicle applications, composites can provide significant savings in mass reduction and lower tooling investment.
“”The automotive industry’s challenge to meet government regulations and public demand for fuel efficiency can be supported by the use of composite materials through up-front engineering focus on both design and materials selection,”” said Bihary.
During the questions and answers portion of the panel session, Bihary told the automotive press that the forecast for composites looks good, expecting production to double by 2020. “”For, example, there is a big emphasis on using composites in the truck market, where many OEMs are looking to apply lightweight materials anywhere they can. This is demonstrated by the huge amount of materials used in the fenders, hood, cab, sleeper and scoop,”” said Bihary.
The theme of the WAPA panel discussions was “”Automotive Material Industry Validates Safety, Fuel Economy with Use of Lightweight Materials.”” ACMA’s Automotive Composites Alliance was one of four materials industries to participate in the WAPA event, including the Aluminum Association, which organized the event, the American Chemistry Council, and the International Magnesium Association.
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