AZL, IKV launch SMC data bank and testing project

Researchers and partner companies aim to standardize the provision of engineering data for long fiber-reinforced sheet molding compounds (SMC).


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AZL sheet molding compound SMC workshop

Michael Kiesel from Siemens talks about focus points for SMC technology for interior components in Siemens Mobility at a previous High-Performance SMC Workgroup meeting. Source | AZL Aachen GmbH


A collaboration of researchers have launched a project for the standardized provision of engineering data for sheet molding compounds (SMC). The AZL Workgroup “High-Performance SMC” was developed by AZL Aachen GmbH in cooperation with Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) and Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) of RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany). Within the scope of the project, companies along the value chain are invited to participate in the definition of the required characteristic material data, the guidelines for the production of test specimens and the test specifications.

According to AZL, requirements to reduce the production costs of lightweight components are driving work toward a new generation of SMCs with higher mechanical properties. SMC, the researchers say, offers potential to realize structural components with good lightweight characteristics at significantly reduced costs compared to conventional continuous fiber-reinforced components.

To achieve this, the AZL Workgrouup is developing a data bank to harmonize material data on SMCs, and to provide the possibility of easily finding the right material for specific requirements. 

Currently, a data bank for engineered thermoplastic materials, called CAMPUS, already exists, and will serve as a basis for the AZL Workgroup data bank.


AZL sheet molding compound SMC workshop

Participants of the last High-Performance SMC Workgroup meeting, in which AZL and IKV presented the project proposal. ​​Source | AZL Aachen GmbH


“The segment of SMC is, with 250,000 tons production per year, the largest composites market in Europe. ... The goal is to have a similar data base as already established by Campus for thermoplastics and thermoplastic composites. Only with a reliable set data we can convince the engineering experts to use SMC in a larger variety of applications,” says Dr. Michael Effing, chairman of the board of AVK and Composites Germany.

AZL, IKV and other companies along the value chain of long fiber-reinforced SMC, under the lead of Dr. Edwin Baur, CEO of M-Base Engineering + Software GmbH (Aachen), intend to build a CAMPUS-compatible data structure and material characterization methodology during upcoming High-Performance SMC Workgroup meetings.

The companies also plan to develop a testing program to characterize the SMC materials within a Joint Partner Project with partners from industry. The project which will include testings on one of AOC Aliancys’ (Collierville, Tenn., U.S.) newly designed SMC test tools.

The project will define the appropriate material properties of commercially available SMC materials that can be used by stakeholders involved in the material selection. Furthermore, appropriate material parameters that enable a detailed material selection within the framework of the preliminary design will be investigated. The process-dependent material parameters for the design of process and structure will also be discussed in the course of the project.

Additionally, the project will address how the characteristic values can be used for process and structure simulation and which tests and production parameters provide significant, appropriate process-dependent material parameters at manageable costs.

During the project, test specimens will be produced from three first representative materials selected by the consortium, and the suitability of the proposed test procedure for the different materials will be assessed. The project will include the testing of the processes and mechanical properties as well as the feasibility of the proposed test methods for the different materials.

The project will begin May 19, 2020 and is expected to have a duration of 6 months. Companies who wish to participate can contact Philip Fröhlig, senior project manager at AZL Aachen GmbH at philipp.froehlig@azl-aachen-gmbh.de. 

Hengrui Corp. (Lianyungang City, China), Polynt (Carpentersville, Ill., U.S.), Siemens (Waltham, Mass., U.S.) and AOC Aliancys are among the companies who participated in the initiation of this project.