The use of advanced materials has skyrocketed in the path towards sustainability in the mobility sector and Piemonte boasts a unique vocation and new solutions in this field
Do you know that Piemonte companies are particularly committed to innovation in automotive materials? Have you ever heard of their strong expertise achieved thanks to the cross-fertilization with other sectors such as aerospace and textile?
This know-how refers not only to the bare material but also to the production process and to the disruptive change in the design, having as main drivers sustainability, performance improvement and cost reduction. As a matter of fact, the use of advanced and lighter materials can affect all factors of vehicle capabilities with sensible manufacturing advantages
Piemonte’s complete automotive supply chain, the presence of important international key players and the regions' strong propensity to R&D, create the perfect environment for new interesting projects in the field of automotive materials. Have a glimpse of some of the latest ones that are contributing to making Piemonte a leading region.
In the last years, CRF (FCA Research Center) has been very active in promoting research and innovation activities regarding materials and processes focused on the development of ecosustainable high-performance solutions for the automotive industry. Several R&D projects were supported by Regione Piemonte (Regional Government). At least 10 over 100 projects funded by Piemonte within the Regional Operation Program (ROP) of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), concern the development of new components and materials for the automotive industry: some of the such as GreenFactory4Compo (still ongoing) and Drapò Projects have involved a large part of FCA suppliers from Piemonte , strengthening the competitiveness of the whole value chain in the region.
The Procomp project, coordinated by the Proplast Plastics Innovation Pole, deals with the development of a structural component based on fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites and manufactured by hybrid moulding technology. Its final goal is to validate the use of this family of materials for manufacturing lightweight components with high mechanical performance with an industrial suitable production process.
The revolutionary ultra-light composite material patented by the start-up company Composite Research (CoRe) in 2015 is another outstanding example: MadFlex, while preserving the extreme stiffness and resistance typical of composite materials, has the almost paradoxical characteristic of being flexible or even rollable. Not surprisingly MadFlex was selected as one of the 10 most promising innovations in the field of composites at the JEC World Startup Booster held in Paris this year. In fact, it represents a turning point for the production of ultra-light easy to transport and store systems or for components capable of changing shape during use. Beyond the automotive sector its applications range is wide: deployable aerospace structures, temporary and emergency architectures, and even orthopaedic braces.
Furthermore, as a result of rising demands on innovative lightweight concepts, the joining of dissimilar materials is becoming more and more a key issue in the region: the Advanced Joining Technology Centre (J-Tech) of the Politecnico di Torino is striving to become a top-class research hub for advanced joining technology, with expertise in high-temperature and adhesive-based joining, laser and friction stir-welding, characterisation techniques such as X-Ray tomography and other custom-built testing facilities.
Piemonte is also the region where people “think additive” and where large players and SMEs have the freedom to bring design and innovation to the forefront. To back up this “additive manufacturing attitude” in the region, the Politecnico di Torino created in 2017 the Integrated Additive Manufacturing Centre (IAM), a multidisciplinary research platform with the aim of overcoming the open challenges, in terms of machines, materials and applications and of contributing, together with many industrial players in Piemonte, in the growth of new generation systems.
These are but a few examples of Piemonte’s expertise in the field of automotive materials: to discover more about these innovative projects do not miss the opportunity to attend VTM - Vehicle and Transportation Technology Innovation Meetings that will be held in Torino on 27 and 28 November. The convention will bring together the global automotive community – car makers and related industries, subcontractors, decision makers – that will inspire a packed b2b agenda, conferences and technical workshops. The programme will feature the presence and contribution of international players and panel sessions to discuss the future trends of the mobility sector.
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