eTAC: knowledge network for automotive applications
The European Thermoplastic Automotive Composites consortium (eTAC) is a collaborative venture of TenCate Advanced Composites, DTC Advanced Thermoplastic Composites, KVE Composites Group, NLR National Aerospace Laboratory and VIRO. These five companies, each in its own area of expertise, are leaders in the production and processing of fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites, which involves materials, materials knowledge, sampling, pilot production, industrial processing processes and the development of mass production. Together the five partners are now targeting the automotive sector.
At the beginning of 2012 TenCate acquired PMC Baycomp, the American manufacturer of moulded parts and components based on thermoplastic composite materials. Now part of Industrial Composites, this company develops and manufactures materials especially for application in these sectors.
In the automotive sector there is a growing need to radically reduce CO2 emissions, weight, and thereby vehicle fuel consumption. At the same time safety requirements are also increasing. As thermoplastic composite materials are lighter than steel and stronger and more durable than steel and aluminium, they can contribute to lower vehicle weight and higher crashworthiness. The materials are indeed more expensive but they can be processed more quickly and therefore more cheaply − even in combination with other materials.
The consortium is focusing on the structure of cars, including chassis components, crash bars, wheel suspension, rims and battery constructions. This is where thermoplastics can offer the greatest advantage.
VIRO is responsible for engineering and integrating the specializations of the different parties for the automotive
Within the consortium, TenCate Advanced Composites focuses on the production and delivery of composite materials. TenCate was one of the first companies to launch these materials on the market for commercial aviation. Within eTAC, VIRO is responsible for engineering and integrating the specializations of the different parties: the accumulation and application of technological knowledge in order to design and build machinery, equipment, systems and processes.
Theo Wigger (general manager of VIRO)
Theo Wigger (general manager of VIRO
) feels that it’s a win-win situation within eTAC for both TenCate and VIRO. ‘In our facility in Osnabrück we make tools to make a door or a dashboard from steel and other materials. We already have our access channels. We have a good name with the companies and enjoy their confidence. Recently we opened an office in Munich, five minutes away from BMW. Suppliers produce the parts but they don’t want to develop tools to meet the demands of, say, BMW. However, we have experience in this field and can call on many mechanical engineers. Our strength is our dynamism in development processes: we can come up with ideas in the short term. We want to work for innovative companies and the champion of these companies.' This explains why TenCate was chosen. ‘We also want to be the champion in our own sector, and we have a great deal to offer TenCate.’