On May 31, 2022, the new Technology Center Thermoplastic Composites "TTC" was ceremonially put into operation at the Leibniz-Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH (IVW) by Science Minister Clemens Hoch. The centerpiece of the technology center is a new large forming press.
Minister Hoch was impressed by the new technical equipment at IVW: "Excellent research requires excellent research infrastructure. I am pleased that the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, together with the European Union, has been able to help realize the Thermoplastic Composites Technology Center here at IVW. It is a further step towards strengthening the science location Kaiserslautern and materials science in Rhineland-Palatinate. In the development of new materials, construction methods and manufacturing processes lies great potential for engineering sciences and a key to solving numerous societal challenges."
On the occasion of the ceremony, the scientific director of IVW, Professor Breuer, said, "With the commissioning of the 2500 t press from Langzauner, which was specially tailored to research needs, component developments can now also be carried out on a 1:1 scale. This will enable us to produce ultralight and multifunctional structures, which are important for combating climate change and for hydrogen technology, among other things."
With around 160 employees, IVW Kaiserslautern has already been successful in research and technology transfer for more than 30 years. The fiber composite market is growing at double-digit rates, as this class of materials contributes to greater environmental compatibility, weight and energy savings, increased passenger safety in means of transport and the avoidance of harmful CO2 emissions for many applications. For this reason, fiber composite technologies from the aerospace industry, e.g. from Ariane or Airbus, are also increasingly being used in automotive engineering, mechanical engineering, the energy sector and also in medical technology.
However, the fiber composites used today are mostly produced with plastics that cannot be remelted, cannot be welded and can only be recycled with very high energy input. In addition, the materials used to date are hardly suitable for the production of very large quantities due to long cycle times. For future applications, therefore, better environmentally compatible thermoplastic fiber composites must be developed that can be economically processed into complex components in very short cycle times. They must also be formable and weldable, and at the end of their service life it must be possible to reuse them as materials for their original purpose.
The concept developed by IVW for the expansion of scientific competencies and the provision of innovative technologies for science and industry in the form of new, cost-effective starting materials, improved component designs and innovative manufacturing technology has been supported over the past 4 years with funding from the European Regional Development Fund "ERDF" and with funding from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate totaling € 10 million. Numerous spin-offs have already emerged from IVW. The latest spin-off project deals with advanced fiber composite technology for the storage and transport of hydrogen.
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