Thermoplastic Composites pilot launched

november 7, 2016

Companies from Limburg, North Brabant, Zeeland and Gelderland, DPI Value Centre and Brightlands Materials Center in Sittard-Geleen (NL) will be collaborating on applications for ‘thermoplastic composites’, extremely strong and rigid plastics.

The aim of the Thermoplastic Composites pilot project is to promote collaboration between companies in the south of the Netherlands, improving the competitiveness of these companies. For this, an open innovation environment is being created at Brightlands Chemelot Campus for the development and testing of technological and innovative products.

The initiator of the pilot is the Brightlands Materials Center research center, located at the campus. The center is investing in processing and research equipment, and is providing expertise and operating personnel.

DPI Value Center in Eindhoven played a key role in getting the companies together. Jos Lobée, Project Manager of the pilot project at DPI Value Centre, says: “We can use this pilot project to provide a boost to innovative applications of thermoplastic composites. We managed to bring a wide range of parties from the industry to the table. It’s great to see that surprising combinations can be created between parties, which otherwise would not have existed.”

Research in line with practice
Marnix van Gurp, Managing Director Brightlands Materials Center, says: “This pilot project dovetails perfectly with our research center’s Lightweight Automotive program, in which we are studying the application of composites in the automotive industry. We are developing high-quality expertise in the field of bonding, processing, design and engineering; expertise that can be immediately applied in practice at companies.”

Composites are materials that are made up of different components, such as glass fibers or carbon fibers, together with regular plastics. Thermoplasts are plastics that soften when heated, making them suitable for reuse. In the pilot, fundamental and applied expertise of these materials is translated into the practical situation at larger companies and SMEs.

Examples of added value
The participating companies are expecting to be able to serve new customers in other sectors as a result of this pilot project, both in the Dutch and the German export markets, allowing them to generate increased sales and employment.

Concrete work packages have been formulated in the project. For example, a work package aimed at processing residual carbon fiber into high-added value products. Another example is the development of a mold for creating samples for a bonding test between thermoplastic composites and regular plastics. Examples of applications are soles for shoes noses with carbon fibers for safety shoes, consumer electronics and aircraft cabins. Other work packages are for remolding composites and for bulletproof panels.

Brightlands Materials Center has work packages on bonding and modeling and on engineering and design. Furthermore, the research center also provides the investments and operations. DPI Value Centre takes care of project management and business development.

It is important that the pilot continues to exist after the project has ended, to allow the business community and researchers to continue benefiting from it.

European and Limburg money for Limburg research institute
The pilot project, with a term of three years, has been assigned €2 million by OP-Zuid, the Operational Program Netherlands South, a European subsidy program for the south of the Netherlands, and €285,000 by the Province of Limburg. The overall project budget is €5.7 million, 40 percent of which comes from subsidies.

Twan Beurskens, Member of the Limburg Provincial Executive for Economy and Knowledge Infrastructure: “The Province of Limburg is investing heavily in the Brightlands Materials Center. Part of this investment is now being used for the Thermoplastic Composites pilot project. I’m delighted that European funding is also being provided for this via OP-Zuid. After all, we – the Provincial authorities – have made it our aim to bring in more European funding for the development of the economy in Limburg. It turns out that we managed to do so with this pilot project.”
The pilot will remain in operation after the subsidy has ended.

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