25 percent lower costs for carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CRFP), 50 percent reduction in CFRP embodied energy, and 80 percent CRFP recyclability into useful products: These are the technical goals for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is a part of the Manufacturing USA network. With a 4,000 US ton hydraulic compression press by Schuler, IACMI is expanding a research and development vehicle scale up facility in Detroit, Michigan. The facility is operated by Michigan State University on behalf of IACMI. IACMI Charter Member The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is also providing financial support for the equipment purchase and infrastructure improvements.
The technology focus areas of the non-profit institute are vehicle parts, wind turbine blades and compress gas storage. “All over the world, we need to enhance energy productivity and, at the same time, reduce life cycle energy consumption”, explains Ray Boeman, the associate director of vehicle technology and program manager responsible for the Detroit facility at IACMI – The Composites Institue. “The efficient and economic production of fiber reinforced plastics is a key opportunity here, and industry has identified a long term challenge – open-access to composite manufacturing equipment where technology can be developed and demonstrated on full-scale prototypes. With Schuler, we are bringing a key composite manufacturing capability online at the only facility of its kind in the US.”
“Our technology not only offers a dynamic force control for reduced energy consumption, but also a greatly reduced mold try-out and wear compensation which ensures a fast development process for the IACMI,” says Paul Nicholson, CEO of Schuler North America. “Furthermore, the congruent bending lines of slide and table compensate natural variations in process variables and materials.”
Congruent bending lines are a necessary precondition to manufacture thin parts within limited tolerances significantly below 0.01 inches – e.g. for lightweight construction. Schuler can also provide vast experience with processing other lightweight materials like aluminum and hot stamped high strength steels.
The upstroke short-stroke press has with a clamping surface of 142 x 94 inches will be ready for production at the end of May, the final acceptance is planned in June. The addition of the Schuler hydraulic press diversifies and increases IACMI’s unique equipment available to more than 150 members of the organization, with Schuler having become one of them only recently.