JEC Innovation Award

The JEC Innovation Awards is a long-established and worldwide program with 3 simple goals: identify, promote and reward the most innovative composite solutions in the world. Over the past 15 years, the JEC Innovation Program has involved 1,800 companies worldwide; 177 companies and 433 partners have been rewarded for the excellence of their composite innovations. The JEC Innovation Awards reward composites champions, based on criteria such as partner involvement in the value chain, technicality or commercial applications of innovations.

Surface Generation Wins Major Automotive Composites innovation Award

The composite C-Pillar reinforcement component, designed by Engenuity Ltd (ENG) and manufactured by Surface Generation Ltd (SG), exploits the principle of thermoplastic overmoulding to achieve a step change in structural performance of the vehicle body-in-white (BIW).

That is, to make judicious use of high performance, aligned, continuous fibre reinforced material only in localised areas where load paths demand their use, thus minimising the overall part cost. Elsewhere, more affordable short fibre reinforced material is used to realise complex features that add part stiffness through geometry and enable assembly.

Partners: Engenuity Ltd (UK), InCA Technology (Switzerland), K.D.Feddersen UK Ltd (UK)

The component possesses complex geometry and variable thickness (2mm to 8mm). It comprises four inserts of continuous fibre (CF) reinforced PA6 (SGL Group, Sigrafil C T50) overmoulded with a short fibre (SF) reinforced PA6 compound (K.D. Feddersen, AKROLOY PA ICF 40). The component is adhesively bonded to the BIW after its e-coat process. The CF inserts are stamp formed from a pre-consolidated organosheet produced with a highly orthotropic laminate stacking sequence to suit the in-service loading of the component.

The moulding surfaces of the forming tools are adjusted, using output from analytical studies conducted by SG, to compensate for process induced distortion. The CF inserts are positioned in the overmoulding tool. The tooling is designed and manufactured by SG and incorporates their patented “PtFS” thermal control technology. The tooling is closed and each of the 96 heater/cooler channels are zoned and their thermal cycle optimised.

The component is cooled partly in mould and partly within an external fixture. SG and ENG worked together to develop test methods that would enable the optimum process conditions to be established in relation to the bond strength between the overmoulding material and the continuous fibre reinforced inserts. PtFS technology was exploited to achieve the necessary thermal conditions prior to overmoulding.

Key Benefits

• Lightweight: A 30% mass saving over the state-of-the-art metallic solution

• Affordable: A net edge moulded composite part at €19/kg

• Recyclable: Recovered fibre supporting a material suited to reprocessing

• Adoptable: A design solution creating opportunities for platform variants

• Transferable: Technology benefitting both industry and consumers

AKRO-PLASTIC wins the secound JEC Award with the unique ICF- carbonreinforced portfolio. In 2016 we have won together with Grammer and BMW the Award for the centre console carrier used in the current Mini Clubman.