New European thermoplastic automotive composites consortium established

Dutch material and processing specialists will cooperate on advancing automotive usage of fiber-reinforced thermoplastics.

DTC Dutch Thermoplastic Components (Almere, The Netherlands), Kok & Van Engelen (The Hague, The Netherlands), NLR National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands (Amsterdam), TenCate Advanced Composites (Almelo, The Netherlands) and VIRO Hengelo, The Netherlands) have decided to collaborate in the European Thermoplastic Automotive Composites consortium (eTAC). These companies, each in their own area of expertise, play a role in the production and processing of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites. Their aim is to promote the use of these advanced materials in the automotive sector. This requires innovations in the field of materials, design, manufacture, processing and automation. The new eTAC partnership will officially come into being in October 2012.

The automotive industry is showing greatly increased interest in the industrial applications of light materials. Thanks to current developments, thermoplastic composites can in many cases provide a solution to achieve the desired weight reduction. The composites that have been used in the automotive sector up to now do not yet meet the required industrial production rates,  in part due to the number of units to be produced, environmental standards, and more, says the group. which has already proved that in close collaboration they are able to successfully develop innovative concepts for the aviation industry, including Airbus Industries. There has already been project-based collaboration in the automotive sector.

The current rapidly growing interest in composites will have to be translated into specific business cases. The creation of industrial processing capability will encourage the use of such materials in the automobile sector. The eTAC consortium will provide potential users with processing knowledge when defining their applications. It will involve the entire production chain in this, since this is a new technology both in the field of materials and in the processing of these materials into end products.

eTAC plans to link up with existing networks, research centers and knowledge institutions, such as TPRC (ThermoPlastic composite Research Center). This fits in neatly with Dutch innovation policy on High-Tech Materials & Systems. The NLR National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands will provide considerable added value by testing production processes and validating pilot installations and demonstrators. The partnership  possesses all the necessary knowledge to make an essential contribution to the current development issues relating to composite use in innovative mobility concepts, such as hybrid and electric cars.

Application of the knowledge available within the eTAC consortium can make a significant contribution to the current issues existing in the automotive sector. The demand for sustainable solutions has increased rapidly. In addition to the intrinsic technological advantages of the material, thermoplastic composites also satisfy recycling requirements.