Officials from Boeing, TenCate Advanced Composites BV, Stork Fokker and the University of Twente signed an agreement on June 12, 2009, to establish the Thermoplastic Composites Research Centre (TPRC) at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
Reasons for pursuing research into thermoplastic composites technologies are that they can offer cost-efficient fabrication and assembly processes and have environmental advantages. Thermoplastics are by nature more ductile (impact resistant), and thermoplastic composites are potentially more sustainable than thermoset composites. These unique properties can result in shorter cycle times and more environmentally friendly processing methods. As a result, thermoplastic materials are expected to have a major impact on the development of sustainable and cost-effective methods of production.
Serving as a catalyst for innovation, the concept of the consortium is to collaborate with different parties within the supply chain on thermoplastic composites. The research centre will focus on development of thermoplastic composite technologies for a broad range of end-use markets including wind energy, oil and gas, aerospace, automotive, medical, machinery, infrastructure, sports and marine.
A key factor that has led to the formation of the TPRC consortium is the growing use of thermoplastics in the aerospace industry, which is happening because customers are increasingly demanding products that are lighter, more cost efficient and environmentally progressive. To satisfy that demand, aerospace companies are looking for innovations that will accelerate development of thermoplastic composites technologies and spur their deployment into product lines quickly and efficiently.
The physical centre will enable researchers and developers from all parties to work closely together on open innovations. It also will enable all parties to share research equipment. New additional members to the TPRC consortium will be encouraged to join in the coming years, including organisations that will represent a wide range of market sectors.
Start of the initiative
The effort to establish TPRC at the University of Twente began last year, when Boeing, TenCate, Stork Fokker and the University of Twente began collaborating on two joint research projects, cofounded by the Province of Overijssel, that involve materials used in thermoplastic composites, as well as joining/bonding methods. The regional development agency Oost NV and Kennispark Twente have managed the start and process of the TPRC project. For Kennispark Twente, this included legal preparations. Oost NV, which is commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland, facilitated the complete process, enabling the continuity of structuring the centre.
In a later phase, realizing public funding together with the regional innovation platform will be the major focus of the activities. In the innovation platform, the Province of Overijssel and the region of Twente work together to generate innovative projects like TPRC. In this combined platform the cooperation and financing for TPRC will be developed.
In the near future, the research centre will be housed in ‘de Etalage’, a Kennispark building that will physically bring together science and entrepreneurship. Kennispark Twente is an initiative of the University of Twente, the Province of Overijssel and the municipal government of Enschede (on behalf of Netwerkstad Twente). Through Kennispark Twente, the University of Twente actively approaches businesses to share knowledge and contribute to innovation. The initiative includes joint research programs, commercial use of the University’s research facilities and development of business activities and centres on and around the University campus. The University of Twente will be responsible for managing its day-to-day operation and member’s research projects.
The TPRC agreement was signed today before the annual Innovation Lecture of the University of Twente at the ‘the Grolsch Veste’ in Enschede, which this year was presented by Jan Närlinge, president of Boeing Northern Europe. According to the agreement, the industrial partner members will support TPRC with membership fees and technical guidance to assure the work carried out by the centre will benefit these members. All parties will allocate an equal share in the joint research projects.
Reaction from the founding partners
“For the University of Twente, good relations between science and industry are essential. The fact that our partners in TPRC choose the University campus, and thus Kennispark Twente, underlines the entrepreneurial character of our University”, said Anne Flierman, President of the University of Twente. “TPRC will prove to be a typical example of translating excellent science into actual applications in society.”
“This collaboration will enable us to leverage our investment in advanced composites technology and increase our supplier base in the Netherlands in the area of thermoplastic composites,” said Jan Närlinge of Boeing. “The TPRC will provide our customers with access to an accelerated development and use of thermoplastic materials and processing technologies, world-class suppliers and aircraft components at reduced cost, cycle time and weight.”
Loek de Vries, CEO and president Royal Ten Cate: “TPRC is a great opportunity for TenCate to develop next generation thermoplastic composite applications. Cooperation with the entire value chain and knowledge institutes enables us to combine material development, processing technologies and design engineering concurrently. In short term, we foresee a further increase in the demand for thermoplastic composite materials. TPRC is a great platform to expand the scope of applications within the aerospace industry, but will also be of interest for many industrial markets.”
Boeing [NYSE:BA] is the world’s leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft combined. Additionally, Boeing designs and manufactures rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles and advanced information and communication systems. As a major service provider to NASA, Boeing operates the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. The company also provides numerous military and commercial airline support services. Boeing has customers in more than 90 countries and is one of the largest U.S. exporters in terms of sales. Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s central R&D organization, conducts its own R&D and works with top government, private and University research centres throughout the world to find the most innovative and affordable technology solutions for aerospace applications. For more information, please visit www.boeing.com
TenCate Advanced Composites - part of the multinational Royal Ten Cate - develops and produces composites for space and aerospace and a broad range of industrial applications. TenCate Advanced Composites has production facilities in Europe and North-America where it combines its fiber expertise with smart chemical and engineering technologies. This synergy gives a true meaning to the TenCate philosophy: ‘Materials that make a difference’. TenCate Advanced Composites established a leading position as a partner for the development of low-weight, high strength composite materials, all designed to offer best performance and ensuring supreme quality, reliability and safety under all circumstances. For more information please visit www.tencate.com
A strategic unit of Stork Aerospace, is a pioneer in advanced lightweight aerostructures and internationally recognized as a prime specialist in the application of thermoplastic composites. For more information please visit www.storkfokker.com
University of Twente
The University of Twente (UT) is an innovative, internationally oriented research University. Research at the UT is mainly of a ‘fundamental-strategic’ nature: it focuses on issues which break fresh scientific ground and, at the same time, respond to needs in society. The Production Technology group within the Faculty of Engineering Technology focuses on processing and performance of lightweight materials and operates on the forefront of the international research on thermoplastic composites. This helps the industry compete on the global market, while the findings and expertise are transferred into the education of young engineers at the same time.
‘Processing’ and ‘Product performance’ of lightweight materials in structural applications are the key words of the main research themes of the Production Technology group. Processing and performance can be optimized after thorough analysis and modelling in combination with a robust experimental programme. An integral approach is pursued, taking into account the relationships between geometric design, production process and material properties.
With TPRC, the University of Twente aims to improve and expand its research and education activities on thermoplastic composites, to improve international visibility and recognition as a leading institute for research and education and to increase the scientific output, the number of students and graduates and the generation of spin-off activities. For more information please visit www.pt.ctw.utwente.nl
For more information, please visit www.tprc.nl
Contact general information:
Wiebe van der Veen
University of Twente communications
+31 53 489 4244/ +31 612185692
Communication information about companies:
Boeing International Communications – Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 777 07 26
Boeing Research & Technology Communications – St. Louis, USA
Jaap de Carpentier Wolf
Royal Ten Cate, head corporate communication
+31 546 544 306
Stork Fokker, communications manager
+31 78 6419848