Leading the Way in Composite Materials Innovation
In August 2023, Sandra Roche, R&D technician at ITAINNOVA and Laura Mera, Senior Researcher on Advanced Materials at AIMEN Centro Tecnológico took the stage at ICCM23, the world’s leading conference on composite materials, to present some of the groundbreaking results of EU Project LEVIS.
ICCM, the International Conference on Composite Materials, brings together leading experts, researchers, and professionals worldwide to discuss and showcase the latest advancements in composite materials. The conference serves as a platform to exchange ideas, foster collaborations, and promote innovation in this rapidly evolving field.
During the conference, Sandra Roche delivered an engaging presentation on debonding, highlighting how optimized multi-material components contribute to weight reduction in electric vehicles. She explained how LEVIS focuses on developing various technologies to propel the design, manufacturing, and monitoring of multi-material parts, with a particular emphasis on thermoplastic carbon fibre reinforced polymer (TP-CFRP) composites integrated with metals. These allow a significant weight reduction while keeping the mechanical in-service performance of the targeted parts.
Sandra Roche also addressed challenges posed by joints in multi-material products, compared to mono-material counterparts. Additionally, she discussed the complexities associated with end-of-life (EoL) treatment for multi-material products, due to the difficulties in separating the different materials. Recognizing the importance of recyclability, reusability, as well as additional functionalities such as maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) activities, LEVIS incorporates specific tasks to enhance the disassembly capability. ITAINNOVA’s work showcased how a well-formulated adhesive enables the introduction of debonding-on-demand capability in joints while maintaining the joint’s in-service performance.
“The development of optimized multi-material components and the introduction of debonding-on-demand capability are key steps towards achieving weight reduction and improving the recyclability and reusability of multi-material products. LEVIS is paving the way for advancements in composite materials that will have a lasting impact on the automotive industry and beyond.”
– Sandra Roche, ITAINNOVA
Laura Mera, in her enlightening talk, emphasised the game-changing potential of novel resin chemistries for the industry. These advancements have the potential to revolutionize the automotive sector by enabling novel manufacturing routes such as Thermoplastic Resin Transfer Moulding (TP-RTM), which offers a promising balance of structural properties and cycle times. This will allow for an optimisation of production costs, resulting in an increased cost competitiveness of the lightweight automotive parts.
Despite the immense potential, the full deployment of TP-RTM technology faces various technological challenges due to the novelty of the manufacturing process. Thus, the talk also addressed some of the key considerations that need to be taken into account as well as details on the process window adjustment at the lab scale. These insights shed light on the path forward and ignited discussions on how these challenges can be overcome.
“We are excited about the groundbreaking advancements achieved through the LEVIS project. The development of new resin chemistries opens up endless possibilities for the automotive sector and beyond. We have made significant progress in addressing the challenges of TP-RTM technology, and we are confident that these innovations will drive the future of composite materials.”
– Laura Mera, AIMEN
LEVIS project aims to develop lightweight components for EVs using eco-design and circular approaches. LEVIS makes use of multi-material solutions based on fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites integrated with metal, which will be produced using cost-effective and scalable manufacturing technologies. The project consortium’s goal is to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of producing these components in three real-case demonstrators at a large scale: a suspension arm, a battery box set and a cross-car beam.