Knoxville, Tenn. and Detroit, Mich., April 23, 2018 – Nearly 180 current and future technicians and engineers in the composites industry gathered at the IACMI Scale-Up Research Facility (SURF) for the latest Closed Mold Alliance composites training workshop, Road2Composites: Scaling Up Innovation. The automotive-composites themed workshop was hosted by Composites One, the Closed Mold Alliance, and Magnum Venus Products, in partnership with IACMI – The Composites Institute.

By participating in this training workshop, attendees learned more about advances in composites and their integration into the automotive, aerospace, recreational, and other sectors. Attendees networked with other manufacturers across the ecosystem and were set up for stronger successes by growing their knowledge and skills needed to excel within their companies. Engineers and technicians from five major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, GM, and Honda, were included in the registrants of the more than 70 industry companies represented at the event.

Nearly 180 composites technicians and engineers participated in the Road2Composites training workshop at IACMI’s Scale-Up Research Facility in Detroit, Mich.

Workshop attendees learned about scale-up processes through demonstrations of unique equipment housed at the facility. During the event, the 3000-ton Milacron molding cell molded prototypical fenders using pellets compounded from a thermoplastic resin and reinforcement fibers. Also, the 4,000-ton Schuler compression press created a hybrid battery box cover for the Chevy Volt using the sheet molding compound (SMC). In addition, presenters addressed relevant trends and topics in auto industry lightweighting. Gary Latham, the Director of Design and Analysis for Pratt and Miller presented the keynote address, and discussed how carbon fiber is being incorporated for weight savings on small run, niche vehicles by using automation and additive manufacturing.

The Road2Composites: Scaling Up Innovation built on the 2017 automotive themed composites workshop, which was held at the Michigan State University Lansing campus, which had more than 220 attendees. Previous participants, such as Steve Snow from Dynamic Corvettes, attended both the 2017 and 2018 workshops and stated that he, “learned more than he ever had at any trade show and had the ability to network with a highly targeted audience of potential business contacts.”

Road2Composites attendees learned about carbon/epoxy prepregs developed for the automotive industry and the production process’s capability for rapid cycle times, which are necessary for high-volume implementation.

IACMI continues to work to grow the future U.S. advanced manufacturing workforce, and these workshops offer a hands-on opportunity to target composites workers in a variety of technical areas. “As IACMI technical projects advance the scope of composites application in the automotive sector, we also work to train the workforce to drive the technical implementation. We’re pleased workshop attendees continue to gain insight and highly recommend the workshop to colleagues,” said Joannie Harmon Heath, IACMI Workforce Manager.

The IACMI Scale-UP Research Facility (SURF) is part of IACMI’s Vehicles Technology Area, led by Lawrence Drzal, IACMI’s Vehicles Technology Area Director, and Ray Boeman, the Associate Vehicles Technology Area Director.  The SURF is made possible by funding support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and the U.S. Department of Energy, and managed by Michigan State University. In addition to this workshop, the innovation facility drives ongoing technical projects and provides workforce development for U.S. manufacturers throughout the year.

Participants learned about the advantages and applications of sheet molding compounds (SMC), then witnessed compression molding by the SURF’s 4,000-ton Schuler compression press.

The next Closed Mold Alliance Workshop, Advances in Wind Energy: Exploring Materials & New Repair Techniques for the Wind Industry, takes place June 5 – 6, 2018 at the National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, CO. For more information and to register for the event, visit the Eventbrite page.

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 innovative research and development in the advanced composites field. CCS is a not-for-profit organization established by The University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The national Manufacturing USA institute 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.