Closing event of +Composites project: turning challenges into opportunities

On May 15, 2014 was held +Composites project Closing event, gathering 40 participants at the Abbaye de Neumünster in Luxembourg.

About the context & its evolution

In 2010, the annual growth rate for the global composite materials industry was 10.3% and reached a total value of $17.7 billion (USD). Today despite the stiff crisis annual growth rates are still over 5% with a more than 16% for the aircraft business. Some market specialists are forecasting that by 2016, the composite materials industry will reach $27.4 billion — a 7.8 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and in the same timeframe, composite end products will total $78 billion.

In this industry, as an example, one highly visible industrial achievement for the application of composites in the aircraft industry was the inaugural launch of the AIRBUS A350, a plane made of more than 50% of composites materials. The A350 is the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. It was originally conceived in 2004 as a largely new design, but with a fuselage based on former model. Some prospective customers rejected this and in 2006, Airbus redesigned the aircraft and renamed it the A350 XWB (extra wide body). After having made its inaugural flight in Toulouse in June 2013, it is scheduled to enter full airline service in 2014.  

In automotive industry, in 2010, PSA Peugeot Citroen was studying the way to reduce the weight of its Peugeot 308, while BMW was advertising in German newspapers open position for engineers specialized in composites materials. Today Peugeot’s new generation of cars is lighter than the previous one, thanks to the use of composites materials. By including more and more equipment for safety and comfort, car manufacturer built cars that were in average 400 kg heavier than 20 years before. Today the industry is working to strongly reduce weight by introducing polymer composites.

About the project & its network

+Composites was launched in 2010 and during the preparation phase, the project partners identified 4 core areas of activity for the project. The first one was related to the transnational business intelligence in composites materials, the second was dealing with education, professional training and employment, the third one monitored awareness campaigns for companies and technology transfer, while the fourth one was in charge of building transnational business relations.

+Composites produced a network of capabilities, knowledge and competence transfer tools that shall enable SMEs to get prepared for composite material shift. +Composites was therefore conceived to give the opportunity to SMEs from North Western Europe to benefit from the network of technological centres and composite manufacturing companies specialized in the field of composite materials. Chambers of commerce, professional training centres and universities helped in this project to promote and strengthen the technology transfer from these institutions to the companies.

The project team succeeded in turning challenges into opportunities and in transforming the spirit of the INTERREG IVB North West Europe project into action: to set up a cross-border community of partners sharing the complementarity of their know-how to solve together regional issues for the profit of the economy and the population.

>> See the presentations of the closing event on CRP Henri Tudor's website

 

An Interreg IVB project - Partners