IDI Composites International composites technology center marks strategic shift

The $1.5 million investment is designed for IDI to help OEMs speed composite parts and products to market more quickly.

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IDI Composites International (Noblesville, IN, US), well known as a supplier of composite parts and structures manufactured with sheet molding compound (SMC) for electrical and transportation applications, sat down with CompositesWorld at CAMX 2015 in Dallas, TX, US last week and provided an update on the company’s strategic shift toward design and process development.

Thomas E. Flood, vice president/general manager North America, and Jeffry Schumm, director of marketing and business expansion, say that IDI has just completed a $1.5 million investment in a new composites technology center that adds 650m2 to the Noblesville 14,000m2 plant. The goal of the composites technology center, says Schumm, is to help diversify IDI’s operations and provide customers — especially OEMs — with a “world class composites manufacturing plant that offers operational excellence, research and product and market development, targeted toward innovative OEMs.”

The expansion includes a heated-platen press, prototype molding, quick tool services (aluminum), and material evaluation services for parts with random fiber reinforcement, as found in SMC and bulk molding compound (BMC) parts. It offers development services for parts using continuous and discontinuous carbon or glass fiber in compression or any other closed molding process.

“To collaborate with an OEM,” says Flood, “you have to have the resources and the commitment. This will allow us to have a dedicated focus to bring technology to market more quickly.”

Schumm reiterates: “We want to help our customers get to market faster.” Schumm adds that IDI sees particular opportunity in helping customers migrate away from conventional materials and toward composites. Doing so, however, requires development of faith in composite materials, which are an unknown to some OEMs. “Our job,” says Schumm, “is to help drive confidence in the process of converting our OEMs from metals to composites.”

In addition, IDI will use this service to expand its market and geographical reach, including infrastructure, building and construction and logistics applications. And with facilities in Europe and the Asia Pacific region, Flood says, IDI can work with customers on three continents.

IDI’s new composites technology center is partially operational now and will be fully operational by early 2016.