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The Innovation Awards presented by the AVK have been granted this year in three categories: industrial, environmental and university.
AVK awards are designed to recognise outstanding developments in the area of reinforced plastics. The winner of the industrial category is the machinery and plant engineering company Eppinger Dieffenbacher in cooperation with DSM Composite Resins from Bruchsal and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology based in Pfinztal. The university category has been won by the Bremer Faserinstiutut together with its partners, the Bremen University of the Arts and InnoWi. The winners of the environmental award in 2011 are Zajons Logistik Entsorgungsgesellschaft and its partners Zajons Zerkleinerungs, both based in Melbeck and Holcim (Deutschland) from Hamburg.
The innovation awards were presented at the International AVK Conference from 26 – 27 September 2011 in the ICS International Congress Centre Stuttgart, in conjunction with the Composites Europe exhibition.
The winner of the industrial category was Dieffenbacher for their direct process for manufacturing high quality SMC parts
Dieffenbacher won the industrial award for their direct SMC (sheet moulding compound) technology, in which long fibre reinforced plastics can be manufactured in a continuous process beginning with the raw materials and ending with the pressed parts in a closed process chain. According to Dieffenbacher, this bypasses the cost-intensive steps of storing, banding and transportation that used to be required for SMC semi-finished parts. They say that processing the compound directly rather than using the conventional semi-finished process has a number of advantages including greater flexibility when developing recipes optimised for specific components, short optimisation cycles and the option of using new resin systems with better properties. The result is a significant improvement in profitability and productivity.
Dieffenbacher explain that the entire process from dosing the raw materials to pressing is stable and reproducible and that seamless monitoring ensures consistent class A quality. They started work on the development of the Direct SMC process with their partners DSM and Fraunhofer ICT in 2003. In 2010, a production scale pilot plant was built and used to optimise the process up to the stage of manufacturing first samples of mass-produced components and to demonstrate the viability of this innovative approach. The system has been marketed commercially around the world since the beginning of this year. Dieffenbacher offers this development to customers as a turnkey plant from the material store to the press itself and subsequent processes. Its partners in the project are currently developing special material formulations and testing customer-specific applications. Successful test runs have already been conducted in the areas of trucks and automobiles.
According to Dieffenbacher, the new process offers many advantages in terms of greater product quality, profitability and flexibility. They say the results can be seen in the measurable improvements in the quality of the materials and process reliability that benefits both the SMC processor and its customers.
The winner of the environmental category was Zajons Logistik for their CompoCycle
Zajons Logistik won the environmental award for developing CompoCycle, an European wide take-back- and recycling system for fibre reinforced plastics. This was developed with their partner Zajons Zerkleinerungs and permits 100% recycling of GRP and CRP waste products.
According to Zajons, the process takes waste glass fibre reinforced plastics (GRP) and carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CRP), from items such as end-of-life rotor blades, and mills them in a multi-stage, dust-reduced process. Impurities are then removed. This is all performed in an industrial plant that required an investment of approximately € 6 million. The recycling plant has a capacity of 60,000 tonnes per year.
Zajons explain that the product of the milling process is a high quality secondary raw material for the production of cement, which can replace primary raw materials such as carbon and silicon. They say the advantage of the new return and recycling system is that the process leaves no residues. It is sustainable and guarantees that 100 % of the material is recycled.
Zajons say the new “CompoCycle” label provides an assurance to customers that waste products are handled sustainably and offers similar marketing benefits. CompoCycle will become a brand that stands for innovative environmental technology. For the first time in the fibre reinforced plastics industry, CompoCycle will take responsibility for products beyond their useful working life and offer the industry a guarantee platform. Companies can purchase authorisation to use the CompoCycle guarantee label for a small charge.
The winner of the environmental category was Faserinstitut Bremen for their looped composites spring leaf
Faserinstitut Bremen (FB) has developed an open ring-pattern leaf spring made from CRP. The leaf spring is constructed from a laminate, which has a variety of fibre orientations and changes continuously. This has been designed to make it possible to vary the resistance of the spring infinitely from very hard to very soft simply by turning the round open ring-pattern leaf spring in its bearing. FB has used analytical methods to determine the resistances of the springs before defining the layer structure. The results of the simulation are finally validated by mechanical testing of sample spring parts.
According to FB, the spring has a lightweight construction due to the use of CRP and also of GRP. FB has already manufactured a small series of the components within the framework of a project with product designers from the Bremen University of the Arts and with the support of INNOWI, a development company owned by the State of Bremen. Some 100 GRP and CRP looped composites spring leafs have been produced so far. These have been mechanically tested and are being used as samples.
FB say the new springs can be used in almost all spring-mounted systems such as seating and reclining furniture, vehicle seats, vehicle suspension systems, bicycle seat supports, active wheelchairs and many other applications. They say automated production techniques also ensure that manufacturing costs are low.
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