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The National Composite Center (NCC) has been awarded a Third Frontier Project grant totaling $1,800,000 to launch a program for nano-enhanced sheet moulding compound (SMC) scale-up.
The work will focus on composite parts that retain the strength of conventional materials yet are significantly lighter and thinner. Initially targeting applications for the commercial vehicle and marine markets, the Center expects to grow 39 jobs and revenues of up to $9 million over the next three years.
“This award recognizes NCC’s track record as a premier commercialization agent for advanced materials technology,” said Lou Luedtke, President and CEO for NCC. “The centre’s broad range of capabilities makes rapid commercialization strategies possible and was the primary reason we were considered for selection. Only five of 18 proposals met the commercialization standards specified for this year’s round of grant proposals. We’re very proud to be one of a very select few.”
According to Luedtke, the centre will achieve significant reductions in the weight and thickness of SMC material by replacing amounts of conventional filler and glass fibre with nano-clays, which have a much larger surface area. Until now, equipment for bench scale work with these materials has been available in academic institutions but lacked the capacity to produce actual parts. NCC will use the funding to scale up equipment with the capability for the first time to produce sufficient quantities of the material to mold parts for testing. “The equipment will make it possible to produce three to six million pounds of SMC,” said Luedtke.
The centre will initially target applications for Class 8 truck cab components and jet skis for the recreational marine market. NCC will team with Core Molding Technologies, a moulded parts line and supplier to International Truck. Polymer Ohio and Comfort Line will also work with NCC to find other applications for SMC. Additional collaborators include Inspired Innovations, LLC and Iten Industries.
“The ability of companies to commercialize new products and create new jobs is critical to the future success of Ohio’s economy,” said Governor Bob Taft. “These funds are helping Ohio innovators turn great ideas into marketable products.”
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