European Thermoplastic Automotive Composites Consortium Established

DTC Dutch Thermoplastic Components, Kok & Van Engelen, NLR National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands, TenCate Advanced Composites and VIRO have teamed up to collaborate in the European Thermoplastic Automotive Composites consortium (eTAC). These companies, each in their own area of expertise, play a leading role in the production and processing of fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites. Their aim is to promote the use of these advanced materials in the automotive sector.

Fibre-reinforced composites have been developed in close collaboration with fibre producers (carbon fibre, glass fibre, etc.), companies in the field of technical textiles and the chemical industry. The combining of the various material components has resulted in composite materials with specific optimised characteristics. The first generation of materials (thermoset composites) can only be deformed during the final processing at the customer’s premises. This usually involves a high labour cost component and relatively low processing speeds in industrial manufacturing processes, which is the main reason why such composite materials are rarely used in mass production.

The partner members of the eTAC consortium have built up a track record in the aviation industry in the past few decades. The same technological development is currently to be seen in the automotive sector to produce light, energy-efficient and thus cleaner solutions. This requires innovations in the field of materials, design, manufacture, processing and automation. The new eTAC partnership will officially start in October 2012.

The 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. Knowledge relating to the application of thermoplastic composite technology is not widely available in the market, in part because this technology is still relatively new outside the aviation sector. The eTAC consortium will provide potential users with this 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 is primarily solution-oriented, which will also involve applied research. It is a project-driven partnership that will provide solutions requested by car manufacturers and their supply chain. The customer will decide what knowledge and skills are required for each project in order to achieve the desired result.

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