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Surface Generation Wins Major Automotive Composites innovation Award

Surface Generation is delighted to share the news that it has won a prestigious JEC Innovation Award for its work in automotive manufacturing at the JEC Forum in Chicago. The JEC Innovation Awards is a long-established program that identifies, promotes and rewards the most innovative composite solutions in the world. Surface Generation was awarded first prize in the automotive category for a pioneering thermoplastic overmoulding application.

Working with Engenuity, InCA Technology and K.D.Feddersen UK, Surface Generation manufactured a composite C-Pillar reinforcement component that exploited the principle of thermoplastic overmoulding to achieve a step change in the structural performance of vehicle body-in-white. The component used continuous fibre reinforced material in specific areas where load paths demanded their use. Elsewhere, more affordable short fibre reinforced material was used to add part stiffness and enable assembly, minimising the overall part cost. The result was a net edge moulded composite component that was 30% lighter than what can be achieved using the most state-of-the-art metallic solution, that can be produced for just €19 per kg and that is expected to deliver a 6% improvement in torsional rigidity.

The component also has the potential to deliver improved recycling rates as it uses recovered fibre to support a material that is well suited to reprocessing. Due to the complex geometry involved, the combination of materials used and variable thicknesses across the component, this project was made possible though Surface Generation’s patented PtFS thermal control technology.

PtFS combines, compacts, processes and melds plastic, glass and composite materials far more efficiently and with much greater precision than is possible using traditional moulding processes. The system used to produce this award winning automotive component used 96 individual air-powered heating and cooling channels to apply precise levels of heating and cooling to local areas of components during curing. The moulding surfaces of the forming tools were adjusted, using output from analytical studies conducted by Surface Generation, to compensate for process induced distortion. Surface Generation worked with Engenuity to develop test methods that would optimise the bond strength between the overmoulding material and the continuous fibre reinforced inserts. 

For more details on our award winning thermoplastic overmoulding application please visit the JEC Composites website or watch this short video. If you’d like to discuss how this breakthrough can transform your production processes, please get in touch at [email protected]. 

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