Boeing, TenCate, Fokker open new thermoplastic composites lab

The ThermoPlastic Composite Research Centre (TPRC) in Enschede, The Netherlands, will evaluate potential for the manufacture of thermoplastic structures for use in aerospace, sports and recreation, and medical applications.

The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill., USA), Royal TenCate (Almelo, The Netherlands), Fokker Technologies (Papendrecht, The Netherlands) and University of Twente on June 26 announced the opening of the ThermoPlastic Composite Research Centre's (TPRC) new laboratory and visitor center on the University's Innovation Campus in Enschede, The Netherlands. Researchers, suppliers and manufacturers are working together at the TPRC on the research and development of thermoplastic composites. 

A collaboration agreement was signed three years ago in June 2009, which resulted in the creation of the TPRC. The Province of Overijssel, the Twente Region, EFRO and the central government provided a subsidy of more than €4 million in 2010. Industry contributes at least the same amount. In early 2012, five other companies joined the TPRC: Instron (Norwood, Mass., USA), Dutch Thermoplstic Components (DTC, Almere, The Netherlands), Pinette Emidecau Industries (Chalon sur Saône, France), Italmatic SrL (Cassina de’ Pecchi, Italy) and AniForm (Deventer, The Netherlands).

An important reason for establishing the TPRC, its proponents say,  is the increasing use of thermoplastic composites in the aerospace industry. A major advantage of thermoplastic composites is their short production time. It is essential, however, to have a thorough understanding of how the material behaves during the production process. The TPRC, therefore, is building knowledge in this field by conducting research and making its expertise available to members in the form of guidelines, data and software tools.

In addition to the aerospace industry, the TPRC also sees opportunities in other sectors, such as the the automotive industry, sports and health care.