New materials for new mobility. Trends
In the new mobility revolution, raw materials play a starring role: new composite materials, bio-based approaches, greater concern over recycling... At Industrias Alegre we keep track of new trends, analyse changes, and continually try materials. Here is an update on the latest trends.
In the middle of April, our partners Amparo Vázquez and José Pérez travelled to the International Composites Show JEC World, which takes place in Paris every year. This year's event attracted 1,200 exhibitors. They came back with the impression that the industry is mobilising to improve sustainability and the innovation happening to achieve this goal is big and fast-paced. The idea is that new composites will help to lighten the load, thus reducing emissions and saving energy. They will guarantee performance and improve durability.
Within the context of this framework that characterises all new products, several key points were evident at the event in France:
- Bio-based raw materials are making significant progress. This idea has been around for a long time with laboratories making available production-ready pellets with very interesting properties.
- Additive Manufacturing is gaining traction with the use of different technologies and distinct materials but taking great advantage of 3D printing for the industry in its different processes.
- Concern for the circularity of composite materials is important and is setting the way for chemical recycling so that, at the end of their useful life, the products manufactured in this way are not incinerated but enter cycles capable of separating the fibres from the matrix.
Mobility, a key component for the plastics industry
Mobility is a key issue, and the plastics industry knows it. The Spanish partners of AEMAC (Spanish Association of Composite Materials) made the issue of mobility clear by installing a 1:1 scale train carriage at the show in Paris. It was a complete Talgo 350 train carriage made entirely of composite materials, which served as the demonstration and proved to be popular at the event.
Recycling and circularity were topics of conversation at the International Plastics and Rubber Event in Barcelona. Of course, mobility was also an important topic at the second National Congress of Plastic Recycling, which took place on 17 May in Madrid. At this meeting, secondary-material manufacturers confirmed that they already expect the demand for recycled plastics to grow in the mobility sector, and the reason being direct demand from major automotive brands.
Staying calm at a moment of high expectations
The Industrias Alegre research team remains attentive even with the avalanche of proposals. They are ready to familiarise themselves with new trends and try them out as soon as they hit the market. As we have pointed out in a previous article, we will not wait for an order to see how a new material behaves, whether it is a proposal for new finishes, for lightening the material or if it is a recycled material. Industrias Alegre has specifically created the RECILAB IA project, a lab of recycled materials, for the purpose of testing them. Amparo Vázquez, the company’s R&D&I Director, confirms, “We have opened up this research project because we want to know how these materials behave in the injection moulding process, what are their limitations and what are the characteristics of the finished manufactured part.”