Faurecia has won the JEC World 2016 Innovation Award for its "one-shot" manufacturing process for visible composite parts; the approach combines structure and aspect in a single part.
The technology makes it possible to insert a pre-heated thermoplastic composite reinforcement into the injection mold and secure it in a stable position. The efficient process was demonstrated on a plastic tailgate with a pre-impregnated (prepreg) glass fiber reinforcement and is particularly suited to tailgates, lower tailgates and semi‑structural parts. The main benefits of this process are improvements in weight, quality, cost and cycle times.
Faurecia has earmarked composites as a key enabler for vehicle lightweighting and is concentrating its R&D efforts in two directions: developing affordable carbon fiber and reaching automotive industry cycle times of one part per minute.
The "one-shot" project, led by Faurecia's Franco-German R&D teams, started in 2014. It is designed to produce visible and non-visible automotive parts based on three key goals:
- cutting, heating and installing the inserts for the flexible composite reinforcements (glass, carbon or natural fiber) in the injection mold;
- holding the reinforcement in position during injection;
- injecting via a process that ensures the inserts hold their shape and position.
The process took 3,000 man hours to develop and draws on the full range of Faurecia engineering and innovation expertise in design, laboratory, CAE, materials, simulation, validation and production.
"The originality of the 'one-shot' process lies in combining shaping and injection stages in a single step, primarily to obtain a net shape part that requires no further modification to alter its appearance. The process also delivers properties compatible with automaker specifications for semi-structural parts through the use of reinforcements made from thermoplastic composite fibers, which are known for their mechanical and lightweight properties," says Jacques Hoffner, Vice President R&D and Innovation at Faurecia Automotive Exteriors.
Following validation on a semi-automated pilot line indicative of mass-production cycles, the process successfully completed the different validation stages, involving torsion resistance, ability to withstand extreme temperatures (-30°C to +85°C) and durability (50,000 opening-closing cycles). The innovative approach can produce a standard tailgate that is around 30% lighter than a steel equivalent and is 100% recyclable (including polypropylene and glass fibers).
Faurecia will be in a position to offer the new solution in response to customer consultations for tailgates, trunk lids, seat cushions and other semi-structural parts in the second half of 2016. Mass-production on an industrial scale is scheduled for the first half of 2018.
The selection criteria for the JEC Innovation Awards include technical excellence, exemplarity of the chain of partners, market potential and originality. Faurecia will receive the award on March 8, 2016, at the JEC World 2016 trade show, held at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center from March 8 to 10, 2016.
Last year, Faurecia won the JEC Europe 2015 Innovation Award in the semi-products category with Flaxpreg™, a lightweight composite sandwich reinforced with long flax fibers.
Pictures available upon request.
Faurecia is one of the world's largest automotive equipment suppliers with four key Business Groups: Automotive Seating, Emissions Control Technologies, Interior Systems and Automotive Exteriors. In 2015, the Group posted total sales of €20.7 billion. At December 31, 2015, Faurecia employed 103,000 people in 34 countries at 330 sites and 30 R&D centers. Faurecia is listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris stock exchange and trades in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market. For more information, visit: www.faurecia.com
Executive Vice-President, Faurecia Clean Mobility
Christophe Schmitt, born in 1959 in Selestat (France), graduated from the University of Colmar (France) where he obtained a Degree in Economics and Controlling (1988) as well as Business Management[...]