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ZF has inaugurated the ZF Composites Tech Center at its location in Schweinfurt, Germany.
ZF say it will use the centre to develop manufacturing processes for the volume production of fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) products on an area of more than 400sq. All Group divisions will be able to use this knowledge, which is also a prerequisite for the maturity of many lightweight design concepts for passenger cars and commercial vehicles that ZF has presented in recent years.
A press is the centrepiece of the Center, that works under the responsibility of Corporate Research and Development in Friedrichshafen.
It can be used to produce components from duroplastic materials according to the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process. In Schweinfurt, ZF will also be able to produce minor quantities of complex FRP parts that are suitable for prototypes. Since the beginning of 2012, ZF has invested a total of EUR 3.1million in machines and buildings for the ZF Composites Tech Center.
“In the past few years, we have established vast basic knowledge and gained experience in lightweight design and we have increasingly been using fibre-reinforced plastics for this purpose”, says Michael Hankel, member of the ZF Board of Management responsible for the Car Powertrain Technology and Car Chassis Technology divisions as well as Corporate Production. “With the ZF Composites Tech Center, we are now focusing specifically on the process technologies for volume production using these materials and we want to make this knowledge available throughout the Group.”
Dr. Ignacio Lobo Casanova is in charge of the ZF Composites Tech Center, which will initially be run by four engineers. Apart from a press with a high-pressure injection unit for various resin hardener systems, there will also be systems for further processing, including a robot and an infrared and tempering furnace.
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