Magna’s new Composites Center of Excellence in Esslingen, Germany, aims to help European automakers meet increasingly stringent emissions requirements with lightweight structures and exterior components made of advanced materials.
“Lightweight composite parts can deliver weight reductions of 30 to 60 percent over steel,” said Grahame Burrow, Magna Exteriors president. “It’s easy to see why automakers are pursuing these materials, and we’re ready to deliver innovative solutions to help them meet their goals.”
The new center will primarily focus on developing structural components, such as vehicle subframes, and exterior body parts, such as door panels and hoods. Several European automakers are pursuing joint development projects with Magna at the new center. According to Magna, one automaker is interested in investigating advanced composites for use in structural rear vehicle modules, and another wants to look at composites for vehicle subframes. There also is interest in developing “class A” exterior panels using composites.
The center has a new 2,300-metric-ton Engel V-Due press that is ideally suited for thermoset compression molding of reinforced plastic or sheet molding compound materials. It enables development, demonstration and testing of full-size automotive parts using a wide range of thermoset composite materials and compression molding process settings. The press also links directly to a testing laboratory where temperature cycles, climatic cycles, various static and dynamic tests and microscopic examinations are performed.
In 2010, Magna opened the Composites Centre of Excellence near Toronto in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada. Notable projects include a carbon fiber hood developed for the 2016 Cadillac V-Series and a current project with Ford Motor Co. to test the feasibility of carbon fiber vehicle subframes for possible mass production.