Knoxville, TN, March 9, 2017… The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, IACMI, a Manufacturing USA institute driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the U.S. Department of Energy, in partnership with Ashland, Zoltek, Michelman, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), JobsOhio, and Michigan State University (MSU) announces a project focused on the optimization of vinyl ester resins and fiber sizings for the fabrication of carbon fiber composites. The effort will identify styrene-free prepreg formulations with longer room temperature shelf life, shorter cycle times, and reduced cost. Advancements in these areas will increase productivity, decrease scrap and material costs, and enable adoption into the automotive industry.
During this technical collaboration, researchers at MSU and UDRI will identify cost-effective combinations of resins from Ashland, sizings from Michelman, and carbon fibers from Zoltek that can be used to fabricate prepregs that can be compression-molded into composite parts. The project will develop vinyl ester resin / fiber sizing / carbon fiber combinations that are styrene-free and that have room temperature storage capability of at least three months and cure times less than three minutes. “We have assembled a project team that brings together the resin expertise, sizing expertise, and fiber expertise needed to develop an optimized system,” said Joe Fox, Director of Emerging & External Technologies at Ashland. “We will be leveraging the resources and talent at UDRI and MSU.”
“Optimization of the manufacturing process for composite components allows for new avenues in weight reduction, strength, and safety in the automotive industry. A reduction of cost for vehicle components can positively impact the automotive industry as well as the composite manufacturing industry as a whole,” said Bryan G. Dods, IACMI Chief Executive Officer.
The success of this IACMI project will help catalyze the adoption of carbon fiber and vinyl ester composites into automotive applications by producing a more cost- effective technology with lower material costs, a more productive technology with reduced cure time and reduced scrap, and a safer technology with the elimination of styrene. These technology innovations should prove to be an attractive value proposition for the multi-billion dollar automotive industry and help it to meet its targets for lightweighting of vehicles.
About IACMI-The Composites Institute: The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), managed by the Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation (CCS), is a partnership of industry, universities, national laboratories, and federal, state and local governments working together to benefit the nation’s energy and economic security by sharing existing resources and co-investing to accelerate development and commercial deployment of advanced composites. CCS is a not-for-profit organization established by The University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The national institute is part of the Manufacturing USA network and is supported by a $70 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, and over $180 million committed from IACMI’s partners. Find out more at IACMI.org.
About Ashland: Ashland Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ASH) is a premier global specialty chemicals company serving customers in a wide range of industrial and consumer markets, including automotive, adhesives, architectural coatings, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical. Ashland is committed to solving the toughest challenges for composite fabricators and their customers — strength, weight, durability, corrosion resistance — using applied chemistry and our world-class unsaturated polyester resins and vinyl ester resins. Visit ashland.com to learn more.
About Michelman: Michelman is a global developer and manufacturer of environmentally friendly advanced materials for industry, offering solutions for the coatings, printing & packaging and industrial manufacturing markets. The company’s surface additives and polymeric binders are used by leading manufacturers around the world to enhance performance attributes and add value in applications including wood and floor care products, metal and industrial coatings, paints, varnishes, inks, fibers and composites. Michelman is also well-known as an innovator in the development of barrier and functional coatings, as well as digital printing press primers that are used in the production of consumer and industrial packaging and paper products, labels, and commercially printed materials. Michelman serves its customers with production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, product development and technical service centers in several major global markets, and a worldwide team of highly trained business development personnel. Visit www.michelman.com to learn more.
About Zoltek: Zoltek Companies, Inc., a global leader in industrial grade carbon fiber, develops low-cost carbon fiber and carbon fiber intermediate products for use in automotive parts, wind turbine blades, thermoplastic compounding, offshore drilling, civil engineering, marine, and various other commercial products. In 2014, Zoltek joined the Toray Group – a relationship that has advanced the company’s technology, strengthened its technical and financial resources, and positioned it for further growth and development as the global leader in carbon fiber. To learn more, visit www.zoltek.com.