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Owens Corning Focuses on Composites Growth in Automotive Industry

  • Friday, 7th June 2002
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Owens Corning will focus on four key areas for growth in the use of composites materials by automakers during the next five years: structures, closures, interior and exterior acoustic systems.

To support its growth strategy, OC Automotive has constructed a new Automotive Solutions Center in Novi, Mich. Company officials and local dignitaries were in attendance for the facility’s grand opening ceremony today.

“”The new Center is designed to bring together our strengths in application development, program management and our strong technical capabilities to accelerate the growth of composites in the automotive market,”” says Andrew Hopkins, general manager of Owens Corning Automotive. Hopkins says the business has defined the four targeted applications for growth as:

Structures, such as end gates and mid gates; pickup beds; leaf springs, front-end and door modules; instrument panels and running boards
Closures, such as tailgates, deck lids and hoods
Interior acoustic systems, including headliners, acoustic absorbers, flat-panel speakers, parcel shelves, door trim, hood and firewall liners and sunshades, and
Exterior acoustic systems such as mufflers, Silentex(R) sound-reducing systems and underbody and noise shields

“”Our focus is the development of applications that are enhanced by Owens Corning’s innovation and expertise in composites materials,”” says Hopkins. “”Our unique approach allows us to work with the Tier One community to create and deliver new composite solutions parts and share the value. Automotive engineers are able to ‘design-in’ many integrated features and create applications that meet both the performance and economic needs of the industry.

Hopkins says composites offer material alternatives that are flexible, easy to process and economical — all major advantages as the trend toward niche vehicles increases. “”This is important today, especially given the fact that automakers are building more and more niche vehicles that have limited production volumes and can’t bear the high retooling costs required for traditional metal parts,”” he says.

“”This Automotive Center will focus on bringing together the unique capabilities of Owens Corning, and those of our strategic alliance partners,”” adds Hopkins. “”Part of our plan for the Center is to have a significant area for prototyping and new technology demonstrations.””

The Center, for example, will be the focal point for work on the next- generation of the OC(TM) Preformable System, which combines a proprietary glass fiber with unique binder technology to more efficiently manufacture reinforcement preforms, such as the preformable system used on the Chevrolet Silverado pickup box. The Center also will develop new material systems such as its proprietary StaMax(R) P long-fiber polypropylene used in the 2003 BMW Mini Cooper front-end module, and next-generation carbon fiber composite technology.

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