As an automotive equipment supplier pioneering innovative solutions for the automotive industry, Faurecia is constantly striving to develop solutions that meet new mobility needs and overcome environmental challenges. The JEC World 2017 Awards crowned this commitment by commending Faurecia’s use of composite materials with a Sustainability award for the NAFILite project and a Process award for the Fast RTM project.
NAFILite: offsetting environmental impact
Weight reduction is crucial to equipment suppliers and automakers who are seeking to curb emissions. A 10 kg reduction in vehicle weight is enough to cut CO2 emissions by 1 gram per kilometer, according to Faurecia.
Faurecia designed and developed its hemp fiber-based NAFILean and NAFILite materials to help achieve these goals. Hemp is an eco-friendly, non-food crop that requires no pesticides, fertilizers or irrigation. NAFILite is a combination of NAFILean material and an injection (foaming) process used to expand the material through mold-opening technology.
Its stiff, microcellular (bubble) structure ensures much-improved performance and resistance. This requires less injected material, which leads to significant weight savings, according to the company. The combination of weight reduction, renewable natural fibers and recyclable thermoplastic means NAFILite can reduce environmental impact by up to 30 percent. Faurecia uses both NAFILite and NAFILean in manufacturing structural automotive parts such as instrument panels, door panels and center consoles. These parts are then covered with leather or fabric upholstery.
“We are delighted to be chosen for this innovation in the JEC Awards. It is an outstanding opportunity to promote our material and shift the goalposts,” said Laurence Dufrancatel, innovation and materials global domain manager at Faurecia. “With this innovation, we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of automobiles. We have achieved weight savings of 30 percent compared with conventional materials. It’s a real revolution for the automotive industry.”
The all-French project is a result of the APM joint venture between Faurecia and Interval, a major French agricultural cooperative. This commitment to the environment has now been enshrined by the JEC Awards, confirming the company’s determination to shape the future of mobility.
“Fast RTM”: an all-French collaborative project
The “Fast RTM” project unveiled by the M2P research institute in June 2013 is the fruit of a collaborative initiative between Faurecia and key stakeholders in the French automotive industry.
Pinette P.E.I. (compact press and loading/unloading system), Compose (innovative tooling for mesh components), SISE (efficient heat regulation system), Chomarat (optimal reinforcing materials), Hexion & Arkema (reactive resins), and Renault, Faurecia & Hutchinson (integration and design) worked together to deliver solutions and develop a process to significantly reduce production time for mass manufacturing.
With its automated environment and state-of-the-art equipment, the Fast RTM platform can create composite parts in a record cycle time of just two minutes.
“We are very proud to have won the JEC Awards with IRT M2P for this innovation, which showcases French expertise,” said Gilles Nedelec, senior composites expert at Faurecia. “The goal of the project was to develop a pilot line for mass production of automotive parts that could be scaled to other industries, such as aerospace, maritime, rail and even leisure.”