SGL Group is leading a consortium of eight UK companies in an 18 month Research and Development project to produce lightweight carbon fiber composite components for the automotive industry. The project titled “Thermoplastic Overmoulding of Structural Composites for Automotive Applications” (TOSCAA) aims to develop the technology of thermoplastic components for automotive serial production among all levels of the value chain, from SGL Group to automotive end users, represented in this project by Jaguar Land Rover.
The overall TOSCCA expenditure is £2.8 million with total funding of £2.1 million by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. SGL’s share of investment is just under £0.6 million, receiving 50% support. The key role of SGL in the consortium is to provide carbon fiber composite raw materials based on a thermoplastic matrix. These materials include long fiber tapes and sheets together with short fiber compounds for overmoulding, recycled fiber materials and continuous fiber based materials.
The carbon fibers are produced at SGL’s manufacturing site Muir of Ord (near Inverness), further support comes from the company’s newly established Lightweight and Application Centre (LAC) in Meitingen, Germany. This includes know-how and engineering expertise as well as providing unidirectional tapes and organic sheets. The materials are used to develop new and innovative composite designs and to manufacture prototypes for structural components within existing car models. This will demonstrate the suitability of such composites for these demanding applications and open the door for future exploitation.
Dr. Grant Andrews, Technology Manager at SGL Group in Muir of Ord: “With TOSCAA our expertise in using carbon fibers in thermoplastic composites will grow and it will enable us to improve our support for all our customers using carbon fibers in the automotive sector as well as in other innovative applications. Thermoplastic components combine important advantages such as short cycle times, weldability, repairability and recycling.”
The other partners of the project bridge the supply chain between SGL and Jaguar Land Rover whilst each of them provides a different area of expertise. They are Surface Generation (advanced processing technology), Engenuity (design, modeling, testing), Nifco (injection molding expertise), University of Nottingham (composites process modeling), Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at University of Sheffield (novel materials processing) and LMAT UK (cost modeling).