The addition of the Preform Center is set to expand the range of applications now offered by the FPC to include processes related to high-pressure resin transfer moulding.
The addition of the Preform Center is set to expand the range of applications now offered by the FPC to include processes related to high-pressure resin transfer moulding.

The Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC) is in collaboration with Dieffenbacher, based in Eppingen, Germany.

Research at the Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC) is focused on the area of fibre composites in lightweight construction. The FPC works in close collaboration with both Western University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT), and is operated as an independent institute that undertakes applied research into materials development and the processing of fibre-composite materials for North American industrial companies. The objective of the centre is to develop materials for new applications in accordance with the specific needs of the North American market.

The existing Dieffenbacher plants in North America have used glassfibre reinforced thermosets (SMC) and long-fibre reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) to enable the development and production of semi-structural components.

The addition of the Preform Center, which is currently under construction, is set to expand the range of applications now offered by the FPC to include processes related to high-pressure resin transfer moulding (HP-RTM). Preform technology forms part of the innovative HP-RTM process, which is primarily used to produce components using carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP).

Previously, CFRP preforms could only be produced by hand via a cost-intensive process. At the Preform Center, production will be fully automatic - a move that will ensure the institute continues to implement the systematic strategy of introducing series-production processes. Access, to what is currently the most powerful technology in the world in the field of composite manufacturing, will be made possible thanks to the FPC technological platform for the American industry.

This technology is planned to be commissioned at the end of March, after which companies will use the research centre to develop and test the use of CFRP during the production stage further. The expansion of the HP-RTM process is based on an increasing need for procedures in the production of structural components. This investment allows the Fraunhofer Project Center to secure its position as the leading centre of excellence for lightweight construction using fibre-composite materials in North America. For Dieffenbacher, the centre of excellence provides an opportunity to support its customers in the North American market, as well as adapt and develop products using a market-oriented approach.