What are the challanges and opportunities?

 

Ideally, our sector needs to find ways to address all these opportunities simultaneously. This is indeed possible as product cost, process energy consumption, sustainability and automation are (or can be) inherently linked. Currently, one of the major cost items of fiber reinforced composite production is curing. The energy required is very high and can make up close to 50% of the total embedded energy of the final product. Hence, microwave curing of composites provides a major opportunity for cost reduction that can lead to i) increased appeal of fiber reinforced composites through lower cost; ii) reduction of embedded carbon; iii) improved product quality. The following section outlines the specific benefits that will result from the Mu-Tool project and how these will benefit our SME members.

 

Use of fiber reinforced materials: 

There is still a strong need to demonstrate the benefits of fiber reinforced materials for new applications. Often, these materials are perceived as exotic and expensive alternatives to for example steel and aluminum

 

Innovation & productivity

There is a major opportunity in cost savings via increased use of automation as well as innovating in production and materials. The move away from open molding could be an opportunity to increase value added

 

Sustainability

This relates to both the opportunities provided by fiber reinforced materials over their product life-cycle. This also highlights the need to reduce energy embodied in fiber reinforced products, which is still high due to the energy intensity of for example curing processes.