FORMAX opens Automotive Production Facility

Carbon fiber reinforcements specialist FORMAX has opened its new 5,000-sq-m Automotive Production Facility for the manufacture of bespoke multiaxials.

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FORMAX (Leicester, U.K.), a manufacturer of carbon fiber and speciality composite reinforcements, on May 23 officially opened its new 5,000m2/53,820-ft2 Automotive Production Facility at the company’s headquarters in Leicestershire. Local MP, the Right Honourable Mr. Andrew Robathan, was invited to publically open the new premises alongside Oliver Wessely, FORMAX’s managing director.

This latest expansion, worth €2.5million, is part of FORMAX’s on-going investment to deliver highly optimized carbon multiaxials to manufacturers of high-volume automotive programs.

Whether it is Class A body panels, body-in-white (BIW) structure or impact-resistant long fiber-reinforced parts that are required, the facility's new 35m/115-ft multiaxial machine will allow automotive OEMs and Tier 1s to design a bespoke fabric or preform to fit both the structure being built and the manufacturing process, thereby ensuring a fast, cost-effective and efficient conversion of carbon fiber into parts.

The machine is equipped with three axes, capable of laying ply angles from 20° through to 90° with inline and offline spreading technology, allowing engineers to specify larger, lower cost, carbon fiber tows, with ply weights starting from just 50 gsm.

An additional feature of the machine is that it is equipped with electronic pattern cams. This facilitates the creation of fabric-specific stitch patterns, which, combined with FORMAX’s extensive research into simulating drape, gives the company what is said to be a unique capability to tailor fabric for specific parts.

Robathan commented: “FORMAX is a very impressive and forward-thinking company and it is great to see the business committed to the development of innovative technologies. The level of expansion they have undertaken in recent years and the positive effect this has on the U.K. manufacturing industry as a whole is very encouraging.”

Wessely conducted a tour of the new and existing facilities to industry guests and remarked: “As a key supplier to the automotive industry, we believe this investment lays the foundations for the next phase of FORMAX’s development as the move towards light-weighting, and consequently carbon fiber structures, gathers pace.”

The new facility will create 12 additional jobs.