North American Advanced Materials Forum highlights

The North American Advanced Materials Forum, a 100% online forum about materials solutions, held on Nov. 12, featured a full day of educational content, including sessions and panel discussions targeting material science, material trends and industry applications.

Attendees learned about the latest innovations in bio-based plastics, automotive lightweighting, additive manufacturing, sustainability initiatives and more. Below are some highlights from Envalior’s North American Advanced Materials Forum.

Sustainability and performance

During the session Driving Sustainability and Performance, Hugh Welsh, president and general counsel for Envalior North America, gave an overview of the company, its evolution throughout the years, and why focusing on sustainability is of utmost importance.

“Envalior started out in 1902 by the Dutch government to mine coal reserves, explained Welsh. “The last mine closed in the 1970s, and over the last century we have evolved from coal mining to biotechnology to petrochemical and now to the company we are today. We are an engineering plastics company. We also do innovations in solar, bio-based, and additive manufacturing. We have business units for human nutrition and animal nutrition, and more.”

He went on to share how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are woven into the company strategy. “We are advocating for a price on carbon; we are driving further innovation in a low fuel carbon economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Welsh. “With the partnerships and collaboration Envalior has with customers, vendors and stakeholders, we want to make the world a better place.”

Just some of the sustainability projects Envalior has implemented or partnered on include: 

  • Akulon RePurposed—our recycled based polyamide 6: Envalior suppliers in India recover discarded fishing nets from the ocean and transform them into special grades used in parts for water sports equipment. This development supports litter-free beaches, a healthier marine environment and a positive social impact for local communities in India.
  • The Ocean Clean up–Dyneema: Envalior supports The Ocean Cleanup. We share our facilities, knowledge, network, and our product Dyneema, the world’s strongest fiber.™ We take responsibility in the areas where our competences can bring value to help solve global challenges.
  • Niaga Technology: When carpet reaches the end of its useful life there are two stark choices—bury it or burn it. Doing either is bad for the environment due to greenhouse gases emitted, which is why Envalior invented Niaga Technology. This is a revolutionary manufacturing method for carpet, ensuring that instead of going to the “product graveyard” the carpet remains alive, indefinitely.

Lightweighting in automotive

During the Automotive Lightweighting sessionDouglas Bradley, composite engineering manager for Michigan State University; Alper Kizitlas, research scientist for Ford Motor Company; and Jay Qizilbash, global Ford OEM manager for Envalior, discussed the benefits of lightweighting, along with emerging market trends. The moderator of this panel discussion was Megan Mahoney, sales director for Envalior.

Mahoney and Qizilbash opened the session by noting that currently there is a push for launching proven materials that Envalior has on the shelf, and that the customer is looking to bring these products into production. Autonomous vehicles, electrification and batteries are driving these materials and applications development.

Kizitlas discussed the drive towards utilizing sustainable material solutions for vehicles of the present and future. Creating materials based on nature– biomimetic materials —is an emerging market trend in which there will be more advanced materials in vehicles.

“For lightweighting opportunities, cellulose is a promising and safe material,” said Kizitlas. “Another interesting material that may be possible to use in automotive applications is aerogel—this is the lightest material on the earth. We need to find the correct application at the right time to utilize such a material like this.”

Also, during the panel discussion, Bradley discussed the mission of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation Institute (IACMI) and how the Institute partners with key players in the automotive industry to embrace sustainability. The Institute also partners with academic institutions and federal, state and local governments.  

The Institute focuses on scaleup technology and high-volume composite manufacturing to fill the technology gap. Bradley agrees that many OEMS and Tier 1s are embracing sustainability, and that companies are taking a more holistic approach when working on sustainable material solutions projects. 

Future of material solutions looks bright

The exciting future of material solutions for the automotive, E&E and additive manufacturing industries was discussed by a panel of Envalior industry experts during the Future of Materials session. Panelists were Bert Havenith, strategic and market intelligence director for Envalior; Harold van Melick, R&D director for Envalior Additive Manufacturing; Jan-Pedro Vis, global procurement director for Envalior; and Caroline Mitterlehner, global business manager for Envalior. The moderator of the discussion was Joost d’Hooghe, VP of Envalior.

The automotive and E&E industries are merging into one industry, and because of this there is increasing pressure in automotive to innovate faster. 

According to Havenith, connectivity and safety will play a bigger role as the automotive industry evolves. There will be more advanced electronic safety systems since cars will eventually drive themselves. “Years ago, on high-end cars you would see entertainment, communication and safety systems, and now these systems are pretty much standard on all cars. Now everything is connected, and in the future, there will be more electronics in car and home systems. We are even seeing this with consumer goods.”

According to van Melick, additive manufacturing opens new opportunities for the automotive industry, and it is getting closer to mass production—soon it will not just be used for prototypes.

“Envalior has been using additive manufacturing for about 20-30 years and we are now going towards functional prototyping and mass manufacturing,” said van Melick. “One area we are focusing on is the automotive spare parts industry. If you can make spare parts on demand when needed that can create many opportunities. Customization is another area additive manufacturing can be successfully applied to.”

The electronics industry is also utilizing additive manufacturing. “Additive is great for products with details. Sometimes 3D printing is the only way we can make intricate parts.”

Circulatory and recycling was also discussed during this session. In the automotive industry, circulatory and recycling come with challenges. For example, a car bumper can be taken off and recycled easily, but the deeper you go into a car there are different compounds and multi-material solutions that are tough to recycle.

“Because of this challenge, Envalior is moving towards chemical recycling,” said Vis. “After the materials are recycled you have a virgin grade of material with the exact same properties you had before producing the product.”

Other topics discussed during the Advanced Materials Forum included:

  • Processing Advanced Materials
  • Polymer Innovation
  • Reinforced Plastics Durability Prediction
  • Creep of Engineering Materials
  • High-Voltage Challenges in Automotive
  • Improving Electric Vehicle Thermal Management
  • Exploring PA66 Alternatives
  • Fatigue of Engineering Materials, and more

To learn more about the presentations or connect with one of our subject matter experts, feel free to contact us.

Candace Roulo

Global Manager of Messaging and Content Development

Published on

15 November 2019


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Candace Roulo

Global Manager of Messaging and Content Development

Candace Roulo is Global Manager of Messaging and Content Development for Envalior. Based in Troy, Michigan, she specializes in writing blogs and articles about advanced materials solutions. Prior to joining Envalior, Candace served in editorial roles at SME and Penton Media. Candace earned her bachelor’s degree in communication, specializing in public relations, at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

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