Composite lightweight construction based on thermoplastics offers more efficient manufacturing processes and the recycling of obsolete components. The National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, UK, has set itself on developing the innovative materials and processes. An integrated manufacturing cell for over moulding fibre-reinforced semi-finished products from ENGEL is showing the way for mass production in both automotive and aerospace industries.
NCC, founded in 2012, is built on 17,500 square meters with state-of-the-art manufacturing cells for a large number of different composite technologies. NCC is one of the seven institutes forming the Catapult Network where each one has its own thematic focus. NCC has a strong team of more than 220 engineers and scientists, who work closely with the University of Bristol, many other universities worldwide and with the industry too. Many companies, both from UK as well as outside the UK, take advantage of the capacities to meet the needs of their own development projects.
Paul Gallen, Sector Lead Automotive at NCC, said, “We are continuously comparing our roadmap with that of the automotive manufacturers. The increased use of thermoplastic materials in lightweight composite construction is high on both agendas.”
Christian Wolfsberger, Business Development Manager Composite Technologies at ENGEL’s headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria, said, “On the one hand, thermoplastic matrix materials enable efficient further processing of semi-finished products in an injection moulding machine and functionalization with materials from the same material group in a fully integrated, automated process. Process integration and automation are the prerequisites for achieving the unit costs required by the high-volume automotive industry. On the other hand, thermoplastic composites simplify the subsequent recycling of components, which is in line with the trend towards circular economy.”
The technological basis for the processing of thermoplastic fibre composites is expanding rapidly.