Meet the monster press
London Community News
By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1
It looks like a support tower for a bridge and if dropped, the resulting shockwave could damage nearby buildings.
The monstrous Compress Plus 2500T press is the centerpiece of the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composite Research (FPC), a collaborative research project between the Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), a German research and development firm, and Western University.
The FPC was established in 2011 with the purpose of developing special materials for manufacturers in the automotive, transportation, construction, defence and renewable energy sectors.
Weighing more than 100 tonnes, the press was delivered to the FPC in east London near the intersection of Bradley Avenue and Veterans Memorial Highway Tuesday (July 10) and it will be used to test composite materials that could have uses in the automotive sector or other industries.
Composite materials are made of different fibers bonded together in a laboratory to create a strong, lightweight substance.
Tobias Potyra, the centre’s manager of operations, said researchers will use the press to test such materials to see if they are durable enough to be used in the production of automobiles.
For example, he said, the mould of a pickup truck engine hood made of a composite material such as a fiber-reinforced plastic will be tested in the press to see if it meets federal safety standards.
If it does, the material could start showing up in vehicles on North American roads fairly soon after testing, Potyra said.
He added such lightweight, durable materials will make vehicles more fuel efficient and quieter but they will still be as safe as vehicles made with parts made from traditional parts.
Using composite materials will also allow automotive manufacturers to produce vehicles with fewer parts.
Potyra was sent from Germany, where he worked with a similar press for Fraunhofer, to share his experience and knowledge with the centre as it gets its new press up and running.
He said the FPC already has $9 million in contracts from Ford and General Motors as well as a number of smaller companies for the development of composite materials.
The centre itself is being built and run thanks to a $10 million contribution from the City of London and $5 million from the university.
The press, which was manufactured near Windsor by Dieffenbacher North America Inc., is being set up in London so that materials meant for use in North American markets don’t have to be shipped to its sister press in Germany, Potyra said.
Installation of the press is expected to be completed later this week and Potyra said the FPC hopes to begin using it for research by September.
On Sept. 14, he added, representatives from the automotive industry will tour the site where the press is housed.