For an injected part made from fiberglass-reinforced polyamide resin, for example, integrative simulation factors the direction of the glass fibers into the finished-part simulations. Over the past few years, the technique has become advanced enough to generate very accurate static and dynamic stress simulations, and was recently used for a new application, load fatigue, under a project completed in late 2016 that was coordinated by Solvay Engineering Plastics and financed in part by the French Interministerial Fund (FUI). The ability so simulate the effects of aging on reinforced polyamides is crucial to further improving certain aspects of the design process for parts reinforced with short fibers.
Of the different possible sources of fiber-reinforced polyamide performance degradation over time, contact with water-glycol blends is one of the most critical for materials manufacturers, for parts designers and manufacturers, and for automotive manufacturers. The Thermofip project focused on this phenomenon. Improved aging simulations open the door to manufacturing lighter, more complex parts without compromising durability while maintaining or shortening development time. The project set out to find solutions that could reduce the weight of the parts concerned by around 20%.
The project’s main economic objective was to give the members of the project consortium an advance that would enable them to get in early on the cooling and oil system component market, where strong growth is being driven by CO2 emissions reduction targets and the associated changes in automotive engine architectures. Specifically, the active component market (switches and valves) is expected to triple by 2025, creating major opportunities for parts and plastic materials manufacturers. An enhanced simulation technology would support users’ market penetration strategies and help them win a large share of the market.
Solvay Engineering Plastics coordinated the project, which involved twelve partners: five industrial corporations, four small- to mid-sized companies, and three research laboratories. The 48-month project represented a total budget of €4.5 million, which included €1.8 million in government funding.
The project was certified by Axelera and co-certified by clusters IDforCAR and Mov’eo.