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WEAV3D Awarded National Science Foundation Grant for Natural Fiber Polypropylene Enhancements
WEAV3D Inc., an innovator in composite materials, manufacturing processes and processing equipment, has been awarded a $200,000 Technology Enhancement for Commercial Partnerships (TECP) supplement to its 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant. The new award focuses on the use of WEAV3D’s woven composite lattices to enhance the performance and sustainability of natural fiber polypropylene (NFPP) composites for automotive applications.
“This grant will fund a detailed study of mechanical performance and manufacturability of lattice-reinforced NFPP panels, including the development and validation of finite element simulation tools,” says Chris Oberste, President of WEAV3D and Principal Investigator for this award. “Our technology enhances the performance of NFPP materials, enabling these sustainable materials to be optimized for a wide range of applications within the vehicle.”
Antolin, one of the largest international suppliers for automotive interiors and a leader in innovation and sustainability, is the commercial partner for the TECP award. “The use of WEAV3D reinforcements promises to reduce the weight of our NFPP components, which in turn reduces CO2 emissions and trims waste to improve the overall sustainability of these parts,” says Pablo Soto, Materials Specialist with Antolin’s Corporate Innovation Department. This supports Antolin’s sustainability commitments to reduce CO2 emissions by 75 percent and nonhazardous waste generation by 10 percent by 2028.
Polyvlies, a leading supplier of nonwoven materials, is also participating in the project. The company’s Naroplast® thermoplastic natural fiber composite targets automotive compression molding applications. “WEAV3D’s ability to tailor the tapes and woven patterns to the application provides an extremely flexible way to increase the strength and stiffness of the panels while improving the design flexibility,” says Axel Hinrichs, CEO of Polyvlies USA.
This additional award follows a previous $1 million grant to fund the design, fabrication and testing of a continuous composite forming line that uses ultrasonic welding to increase the production throughput of WEAV3D’s patent-pending continuous composite forming process. This next-generation system is being built according to automotive production speed and quality standards, with a target production capacity of 200,000 to 300,000 automotive door panel size parts per year per machine.
For more information visit: weav3d.com and grupoantolin.com.