IACMI installs Schuler press at Detroit technical center

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) will use the 4,000-US-ton Schuler press to prove autocomposites manufacturing technologies.

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The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI, Knoxville, TN, US) has intalled a 4,000-US-ton hydraulic compression press supplied by German manufacturer Schuler Inc. (Göppingen, Germany) at its research and development vehicle scale-up facility in Detroit, MI, US. The facility is operated by Michigan State University on behalf of IACMI. IACMI Charter Member The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is also providing financial support for the equipment purchase and infrastructure improvements.

The technology focus areas of IACMI are vehicle parts, wind turbine blades and compressed gas storage. “All over the world, we need to enhance energy productivity and, at the same time, reduce life cycle energy consumption,” explains Ray Boeman, the associate director of vehicle technology and program manager responsible for the Detroit facility at IACMI. “The efficient and economic production of fiber-reinforced plastics is a key opportunity here, and industry has identified a long term challenge – open-access to composite manufacturing equipment where technology can be developed and demonstrated on full-scale prototypes. With Schuler, we are bringing a key composite manufacturing capability online at the only facility of its kind in the US.”

“Our technology not only offers a dynamic force control for reduced energy consumption, but also a greatly reduced mold try-out and wear compensation which ensures a fast development process for the IACMI,” says Paul Nicholson, CEO of Schuler North America. “Furthermore, the congruent bending lines of slide and table compensate natural variations in process variables and materials.”

Congruent bending lines are a necessary precondition to manufacture thin parts within limited tolerances significantly below 0.01 inch – e.g. for lightweight construction. Schuler can also provide experience processing other lightweight materials like aluminum and hot-stamped high strength steels.

The upstroke, short-stroke press has a clamping surface of 142 by 94 inches and will be ready for production at the end of May; final acceptance is planned in June.