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High-Performance SMC Study Launched

High-Performance SMC Study Launched

  • Tuesday, 5th September 2017
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

A consortium of international companies has come together to drive the future of sheet moulding compound (SMC), an established, cost-efficient material for the production of lightweight components.

The companies will kick off a Joint Market and Technology Study on 12 September 2017 designed to pave the way for establishing a new generation of high performance SMC materials (HP-SMC). Companies along the entire SMC value chain, as well as those interested in the SMC technology, are invited to join. The study will exploit the expertise of AZL Aachen and the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and the Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University.

To increase the lightweight potential of SMC materials and thereby open up additional applications for fibre reinforced plastics in highly cost-driven sectors such as the automotive industry, a next generation of high performance SMC is required. These high-performance materials consist of short and continuous carbon and glass fibres and combinations of these as well as customised resin compounds. In comparison to other materials, HP-SMC value chains are determined by a high number of interdependencies between material, processing and application properties, which will be addressed in the upcoming study.

“SMC is without any doubt ‘the’ composite technology that is trusted by the automotive industry,” says Dr. Thierry Renault, Manager of Partnerships at Faurecia Composite Technologies. “There is for sure a strong renewed interest for standard SMC and also for its many evolutions and innovations that are now referred to as High-Performance SMC. The industry needs to clearly define the potential, advantages and drawbacks for new products that can be targeted for with these materials. The AZL platform relies on the strong scientific background of the Aachen University and research institutes and its industrial members to give us a better view of where the market of High-Performance SMC is going.”

Peter Schmidt, Managing Director of Polynt in Miehlen, Germany, also emphasises the importance of taking SMC to the next level.

“We joined the study as the AZL offers us a platform to develop a high-performance version of SMC with enhanced raw materials, recipes and processes,” he says. “This will allow us to open new application areas or to reactivate existing applications. In our view, it is important that at the AZL members of the entire value chain – from raw material to OEM – are actively involved in this initiative over the next months.”

The aim of the Market and Technology Study on High-Performance SMC is to provide in-depth knowledge on SMC applications, technologies and simulation methods. Key challenges, and technological solutions for establishing High-Performance SMC in markets with high demands on performance, predictability, reliability and costs will be identified. This will serve as basis for the elaboration of design guidelines, a target-oriented development and to open up new business opportunities. The 12-month project is designed as a joint study involving players along the entire value chain. This approach allows participants to benefit from the knowledge of all study partners and experts involved in the project and to influence progress according to their specific demands. During the kick-off meeting, key materials and applications as well as calculation and production technologies will be discussed by the participants to focus the study.

“SMC is a traditional and important process for large-series which can achieve an attractive price-performance ratio by using new resins and fibres,” states Dr. Reiner Karl, Managing Director of Mahr Metering Systems. “We at Mahr Metering Systems develop new metering and mixing techniques to replace batch processes with continuous processes. The target is to achieve increased flexibility of the recipe and constant quality of the production process. The AZL Platform offers us the opportunity to discuss requirements of the process with established SMC producers and processors.”

The scope and content of the study have been developed in close collaboration with the industrial AZL Workgroup as one of different joint research and development initiatives to build a ‘toolbox’ for HP-SMC. For the realisation of its initiatives, the workgroup uses the large-scale and test equipment available on the RWTH Aachen Campus, including the 1,800 ton Schuler composite press installed at AZL, as well as IKV’s processing expertise.

Image provided by AZL / Schuler Pressen

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