Magna International Inc has launched a new Composites Centre of Excellence in Esslingen, Germany. The centre aims to help European automakers meet increasingly stringent emissions requirements with lightweight structures and exterior components made of advanced materials.
The centre will primarily focus on developing structural components like vehicle sub frames, as well as exterior body parts such as door panels and bonnets. Several European automakers are pursuing joint development projects with Magna at the new centre. There is a great deal of interest among automakers about investigating advanced composites for use in structural rear vehicle modules, the company noted. It also said companies are looking at composites for vehicle sub frames and for developing ‘Class A’ exterior panels using composites.
The centre has a 2,300-metric-ton Engel V-Duo press that is ideally suited for thermoset compression moulding of reinforced plastic or sheet moulding compound materials. It enables development, demonstration and testing of full-size automotive parts using a wide range of thermoset composite materials and compression moulding process settings, explained Magna. The press also links directly to a testing laboratory where temperature cycles, climatic cycles, various static and dynamic tests, and microscopic examinations are performed, the company stated.
Grahame Burrow, President, Magna Exteriors, said lightweight composite parts can deliver weight reductions of between 30-60 % over steel. He added that there is a growing trend of automakers pursuing these materials, and Magna is ready to deliver innovative solutions to help them meet their goals.