Every year, JEC rewards the best cutting-edge and ingenious projects using composites to their full potential. Winning gives these endeavors a worldwide recognition thanks to a high quality, established brand.
This edition of the JEC Innovation Awards Competition aimed to reward the best cutting-edge and ingenious projects involving the use of composite materials in ground transportation applications.
The 5 following prizes all demonstrated excellence in categories ranging from passenger cars to heavy trucks, featuring namely: significant weight savings, innovative processes, unique designs, shortened process times and reduced costs.
Company: Fraunhofer ILT (Germany)
Partners: Weber Fibertech (Germany), Werkzeugbau Siegfried Hofmann (Germany), Fraunhofer LBF (Germany), ScanLab (Germany), BMW Group (Germany)
Hybrid Roof Bow
The innovation enables the reduction of process costs while maintaining the part's performance by reducing material costs and shortening process times by integrating several process steps.
In the HyBriLight Project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany, a consortium of 9 companies developed an innovative hybrid roof bow which demonstrates the successful implementation of novel laser-based processes for lightweight production. All basic information like dimensions and mechanical requirements of the demonstrator roof bow are based on the original part of the BMW 7 series. The participants in the HyBriLight project are the following: Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT (project coordination), Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, Weber Fibertech GmbH, Werkzeugbau Siegfried Hofmann GmbH, Scanlab GmbH, BMW AG, Airbus Group Innovations, Coherent Dilas, Held Systems GmbH.
The roof bow consists of a fiber-reinforced plastic bar which is connected to two metal connecting plates which can be spot-welded to the car body. The connection between composite and metal is changed from adhesive joining and riveting to an innovative laser-based joining approach. Therefore, the metal connecting plates are pretreated with ultrafast lasers in order to create a spongy surface topography. The joining process itself takes place during a compression molding process of the plastic bar. The joining process is enabled by a special variothermal mould which allows preheating of the metal connection plates and process control via integrated sensors during the process.
The value created by this innovation is the reduction of process costs by decreasing process times by 70%, reducing costs for raw materials by 45% and integrating several process steps into a high-automated process while maintaining the components performance.
Company: Faurecia (France)
Partner: Hexion (France)
Lightweight Vehicle Underbody Protection
The innovation consists of a composite underbody protection achieving a weight saving of 53%, designed with a new FEA based preforming approach, with specific constraints such as complex shape, abrasion and impact.
For the automotive industry, weight saving is a key point to improve the energy efficiency of the vehicle. Today, underbodies of vehicles with off-road capabilities are protected from abrasion, stone chipping and object penetration largely by a steel plate which weighs 20 kg due to stringent road test requirements. This innovation replaces current steel underbody protection enabling a weight saving of 53%, with equivalent performance. The composite material definition answers to specific criteria as abrasion and impact behavior combined with a high level of stiffness. The complex shape of the part required a first industrial application of a new FEA based preforming simulation approach. This approach allowed us to use specifically developed woven and multiaxial fabrics with a combination of Aramid, Carbon and Glass fibers designed for complex shape preforming and to achieve maximum material and process costs optimization.
This innovation has very high market potentials to apply to off-road vehicles demanding high abrasion resistance, cracking resistance and stiffness. These may include luxurious sport vehicles with off-road capability, full off-road vehicles for terrain exploration and SUV and pickup truck using enhanced off-road capability as added value.
Company: TPI Composites (USA)
Partner: Proterra (USA)
Design and Fabrication of an Integrated Monocoque Composite 40ft Plug-in Electric Transit Bus
TPI Composites has designed and produced an all-composite monocoque plug-in electric bus body with Proterra. Engineers at TPI and Proterra collaborated in the design and development of a unique structural composite bus body. The Proterra “Catalyst” is a unique design which incorporates fiberglass and carbon fiber non-crimp fabrics and a modified vinyl-ester in a vacuum resin infusion process. Design innovations include the use of integrally infused carbon pultrusions to carry the passenger and battery load, limiting deflections between the wheelbase. A unique approach to direct front-end impact through the vehicle floor provides a level of protection not achieved in conventional metallic design or SMC bonnets. The Catalyst design creates a distinctive body style made possible by composite molding. Mass reduction of over 40% compared to the steel baseline enables unprecedented range. Unitary tooling and molding of the bus structure creates a distinct and unique body styling that is not possible with metal fabrication. The bus structure includes extensive use of sandwich construction unique to composite fabrication and improves: structural efficiency, noise, and thermal insulation. Innovative fastening technologies include threaded fittings, tapping plates, through-bolted solutions and combine to provide a system that flows smoothly through vehicle assembly. The additional value of a corrosion resistant vehicle structure enables a projection of more than 20 years of service where conventional steel systems project to 7 to 11 years of service life. The all-composite Proterra bus enables electrification of public transportation, and is leading to the expanded use of composite systems and sub-systems in all forms of transportation, including bus, truck and automotive applications.
Company: Saprex (USA)
Self-molding, High Heat Composite Insulation System
The project consists of a self-molding, PPS, thermoplastic composite insulation system for large bore diesel engine exhaust systems tests.
Saprex has developed a self-molding glass and PPS composite systems that self-molds arounds exhaust tube of large bore diesel engine vehicles. Using braided insulation, an innovative knit cover material and a water based, PPS, thermoplastic composite resin that was developed by Saertex, it has been made possible to produce a rigid insulation system on almost any geometrical configuration of tubing. This allows the easy installation, infinite changes in tubing geometry and long-service life. The innovation has been adopted by PACCAR, Daimler and Navistar. Instead of having to produce dies to make metal stamped and welded insulation covers, Saprex provides a totally flexible system that can be applied to any geometry of pipe that completely removes the need for dies and molds. This innovation is unique in the composites world, since composite materials are used to replace metal products that make dies and molds necessary. The water based, environmentally friendly PPS composite resin can be brushed, sprayed or used as a dip to deliver a matrix into a composite system. PPS is easily recoverable from waste product and an environmentally friendly water solution remains.
Company: Bcomp (Switzerland)
Partner: Persico (Italy)
Light-weight Automotive Interior Parts with Natural Fiber Reinforcement
With a staggering lightweighting potential resulting in up to 40% lighter automotive interior parts, high cost-efficiency and readiness for full integration into existing production lines, this innovation makes natural fiber reinforcements available for industrial markets.
The innovation consists of a processing technology that enables the use of high-performance natural fiber reinforcements on an industrial scale. It is a highly efficient process with one-step back-injection, that compression molds powerRibs natural flax fiber reinforcement rib structure together with a base non-woven material of choice (typically NFPP fleeces), as well as including decorative layers on the A-side, attachment points and punching in the same step. With the innovative employment of a soft silicone on the B-side on the compression molding tool, the full stiffening potential of the powerRibs preform is reached and maintained.
The collaboration brings the process to full industrialization readiness. Thanks to this innovation, it is shown how the highly engineered preform can be seamlessly integrated in large-scale, highly efficient, top notch production lines, to produce plug and play lightweight and strong interiors for tomorrow's automobiles while at the same time decreasing the eco footprint.
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