On Friday 14th of September, the new lab facilities of the recently founded ThermoPlastic composites Application Center (TPAC) are opened by Anka Mulder, the president of Saxion, University of Applied Sciences. The lab features new processing equipment enabling it’s focus on cost-effective processing and application of thermoplastic composites. At the same time the inauguration of Ferrie van Hattum as professor for Lightweight Structures and the 5th anniversary of the research group took place.
The TPAC performs research on low-cost processing and application of lightweight materials, with particular focus on thermoplastic composites materials. Further beneficial properties like impact resistance and fast processing make it the material of choice for high-end applications like aerospace, sport cars and sporting goods. The goal of the TPAC is to reduce processing costs to broaden the use of thermoplastic composites and make the material affordable for more sectors, business and people. Or like Ferrie van Hattum puts it: ”Composites for the people”.
The application centre works together with more than 100 companies of mostly small and medium size and institutions. Multiple consortiums are formed to tackle challenges in various projects. Guest speaker Jac. Gofers, President of the The Dutch Federation of Rubber and Plastics Industry (NRK) and CEO of Promolding underlines the importance of an application centre. “Lightweight solutions give plenty of benefits, but testing is essential to understand the effect of weight reduction and composite application during use.” Sjef van Breugel, CEO of Pontis Engineering emphasizes the strong connection to industrie “The TPAC has a strong relation to industry and listens to the requirements in the sector, for example the necessity of affordable processing technologies.” Students of different studies are involved with multi-disciplinary groups, internships and graduation assignments. In this way students learn about design, materials and production of lightweight engineering applications.
Together with the partners, the TPAC defined three research areas: Recycling, Production and Automation. In the field of recycling methods are developed to process low-end polymer waste, e.g. from the plastic soup, into simple products. Also high-end carbon fibre based post-industrial waste from aerospace is studied and processed into new applications for aerospace. New production methods are developed and tested to process composite material in a cost-effective manner, e.g. combining 3D printing and tape placement. Production speed and robustness is further increased and cost is limited by implementing automation.
Smart Industry Fieldlab
New facilities, like a vertical closure injection moulding machine including an infrared oven to heat preforms and robot in an automation cell, underline the new possibilities of the laboratory. Together with the research partner TPRC, the TPAC forms TPC NL and was awarded the Smart Industry Fieldlab by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands and is listed as digital innovation hub by the European Commission.