Solvay opens thermoplastic composite centers in U.S. and Belgium
Solvay (Alpharetta, Ga., U.S.) has recently opened two innovation centers dedicated to thermoplastic composites in the United States and Europe, and has signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin to help grow aerospace composite materials activity through its new center in Belgium.
The company says its Product Development Center in Alpharetta, Georgia, and its Customer Engagement Center in Brussels, Belgium, will reinforce Solvay’s research and innovation (R&I) capabilities and engagement with customers, in high-performance materials for the aerospace, automotive and oil & gas markets.
The opening of both centers follows Solvay’s creation in April of its thermoplastic composites platform to speed up the development of these materials. The centers are complementary and will build on Solvay’s vertically integrated portfolio of specialty polymers and carbon fiber composites.
“Solvay’s new R&I centers in the U.S. and Europe and our recent capacity expansions, complete our infrastructure to support the industrialization of our thermoplastic materials technology. The centers provide state-of-the-art assets and capabilities to accompany our customers in the design,
prototyping and testing of parts and allowing for a dramatic acceleration of the time to market of our materials,” says Augusto Di Donfrancesco, member of Solvay’s Executive Committee.
The U.S. center is dedicated to the rapid innovation and development of next-generation thermoplastic composites. Home to the North American headquarters of both Specialty Polymers and Composite Materials, Solvay in Alpharetta can leverage its own end-to-end polymer and carbon fiber expertise that goes from the design of polymers and the development of composites, to additive manufacturing.
The Belgium center focuses on collaborating with Solvay’s customers to accelerate the market adoption of thermoplastic composites. The center provides virtual engineering, allowing for the simulation of advanced parts and systems as well as the minute analysis of the characteristics of materials; the rapid prototyping of complex small to mid-sized parts; as well as the advanced mechanical testing and validation of the materials.
In addition, Solvay, as part of a group of Belgian companies with aerospace activities, and Lockheed Martin (Ft. Worth, Texas, U.S.) have signed a cooperation agreement to foster Belgium’s research and innovation linked to advanced composite materials for the aerospace industry.
This agreement has been signed in the frame of the so-called ESI (essential security interests) measures linked to the Belgian F-35 program contract. The Belgian government’s selection of the F-35 entails cooperation throughout the Belgian aeronautics ecosystem of companies and universities with Lockheed Martin.
The cooperation agreement will be signed by Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri and CEOs or senior executives of Lockheed Martin, Asco Industries, Coexpair, Feronyl, Sabca, Safran Aero Boosters, Sonaca and Thales Belgium, in the presence of Federal Minister of Economy Nathalie Muylle and U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Ronald Gidwitz at Solvay’s headquarters.
The purpose of this agreement is to detail the process of selecting R&I projects involving Belgian universities and industry partners in the field of advanced composite materials for aerospace applications such as the development of next-generation composite materials, repair techniques and bonding metal with composites. Projects will last 12 to 24 months and the university teams with the most innovative and effective solutions will be eligible for design awards.
Solvay says it will make its Customer Engagement Center in Brussels available to these projects. Solvay is forging closer connections with external partners including start-ups, research centers and universities to foster a unique research & innovation ecosystem. The Customer Engagement Center is part of Solvay’s ambition to turn its Brussels Campus into an open innovation hub for high-technology and sustainable solutions in chemistry and advanced materials.
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