Issue: Mar 2015


Hutchinson: further integration opportunities with new-generation composites



by Nick Palmen

Hutchinson is currently one of the few thermoplastics/composites players that not only does its own part design and manufacturing, but also formulates its own materials. The Group has developed 3rd generation composites that meet aerospace performance criteria and satisfy the need for high-output production in the aerospace and automotive industries of tomorrow. These high-performance composites are ultra-light, strong, more environment friendly and cost effective, and they are also highly innovative: “At Hutchinson, innovation is part and parcel of the approach. Approaching the design of a composite part by integrating a large number of functions makes the use of composites all the more attractive from the cost viewpoint,” says Bertrand Florentz, Director of Hutchinson’s Composites Technical Centre.

 

Hutchinson, composite partner for vehicles of the future:

 

Hutchinson worked with Peugeot Sports and Total to develop the front and rear axles, which are made of composite and integrate four functions: the suspension (eliminating the need for springs), the wheel guide (eliminating the need for wishbones), roll control and damping of road vibrations and rolling noise. “Our new solution meets the builder’s strict requirements and enables us to drastically reduce the weight of the suspension function, by 13.6 kg. This is consistent with the weight reduction strategy adopted by auto builders to comply with European regulations, which stipulate <.90g CO2/km by 2020, with even stricter requirements to come. In terms of architectural gain, the part is more compact, and our technology enables a one-step assembly process, instead of the usual 12 steps,” adds Hutchinson’s project manager.

An innovation initiative that is backed by a high-tech technical centre, the CTeC As part of the Hutchinson Research Centre, the CTeC (Centre Technique Composite) opened in 2014 and also works on other integrated parts to reduce the cycle times for the parts and their weight. This is the case for the innovative cockpit developed in collaboration with Airbus, for example. In 2014, the cockpit won a JEC Innovation Award in the Design category. “At this year’s JEC Europe, we have presented a new, even lighter instrument panel at our stand!” says Bertrand Florentz.

 

Hutchinson’s innovative composites and glass fibre reinforced plastics (GFRP) are also featured in new aerospace programmes in various comfort and safety applications, such as the new air-conditioning ducts, insulating wire-bundle brackets, or the new lightning protection for fuel-tank rivet heads.

 

With a 2014 turnover of €3,462 million and more than 35,000 employees in 23 countries worldwide, Hutchinson is a leading global supplier in smart solutions for comfort and safety in automotive, aerospace and other industries. With a priority on its customers’ energy performance, Hutchinson designs and produces essentially vibration control systems, fluid management systems, and sealing solutions technologies.



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