12 June 2009

Royal Ten Cate is a founding partner in new Dutch research centre for thermoplastic composite technology

Logo TPRC Royal Ten Cate is working in close collaboration with other Dutch companies and knowledge institutes to further expand its position in the aviation industry. Dutch companies like TenCate have a great deal of knowledge in the field of innovative lightweight materials and production processes. The new Dutch research centre for thermoplastic composite technology has now been established at the University of Twente in Enschede and is called Thermoplastic Composite Research Center (TPRC). TenCate is one of the four founding partners. The Consortium Agreement has been signed on Friday 12 June 2009 in Enschede, The Netherlands.

In the 1970s and 1980s TenCate was in at the very start of the development of lightweight thermoplastic composites for the aviation industry. The new generation of aircraft from leading aircraft manufacturers, represents a breakthrough in the use of these materials, as these planes are made largely of composite material. Thanks to composites, significant cost advantages and an environmental benefit are achieved.

The material, production and compound technologies that have been developed can also be used in a number of other sectors, such as defence, wind energy and the automotive industry. The establishment of TPRC at the University of Twente in Enschede has enabled The Netherlands – and in particular the Eastern Netherlands – to take a great innovative step forward within the international composite technology sector for advanced applications, such as those for aviation.

Composite technology
Fibre-reinforced composites stem from a process of innovation based on textile technology and chemistry. TenCate composite materials consist of a compound of carbon or glass fibre fabrics that, with the addition of resins, are compressed into a laminate. These are marketed under the name TenCate Cetex®. One of the characteristics of this material is that, when heated in a compression press, it becomes deformable (thermoplastic). The material can be industrially processed into moulded parts for such things as aircraft panels and interior parts of aircraft.

Open innovation
Open innovation means that companies work in a goal-oriented collaboration on the innovation process and share knowledge. This is of importance to TenCate as it enables it to develop other industrial uses for composites, in addition to the aviation industry, such as those for the automotive industry, wind energy and oil extraction. Thanks to the new Dutch TPRC research centre, this can now happen in a targeted way.

Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Royal TenCate, mr L. de Vries is delighted with the creation of this partnership: “The establishment of the Thermoplastic Composite Research Center is a milestone. In the aviation industry efforts are being made to achieve long-term development relationships. Development programs are long-term processes, in which quality and safety have high priority and it is important to structure collaboration well in this field. The leading role of TenCate and others in the field of composite materials is recognized by the aircraft manufacturers. This actively stimulates further developments. This industry is a knowledge-intensive sector and therefore of great economic value. Open innovation increases the opportunities for TenCate to apply our materials knowledge more broadly, for example in the field of wind energy.”

In addition, support from the Development Company of the Eastern Netherlands, the province of Overijssel, the city of Enschede, the region of Twente and the Innovation Platform Twente is admirable, mr De Vries feels: “All these efforts link up closely with innovation in the region of Twente in the field of high technology. After all, material knowledge offers excellent prospects for the future. TenCate also intends to continue to play a prominent role here. The activities and projects of the Thermoplastic Composite Research Center in Enschede will boost both the economy and employment in the Eastern Netherlands, which will doubtless also have a positive effect internationally”.

Cetex LaminateFor more information: www.tprc.nl

PDF: Speech Mr. De Vries

Photo: TenCate Cetex material

Logo: TPRC

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