Chances are, if you see a car on the road today, most of it is made with metal. However, over the last decade, that has slowly been changing. From the composite frame of the game-changing 2011 BMW i3 to the truck bed of the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, composites have slowly made their way into more and more automotive applications. According to composites market intelligence firm Lucintel, the North American automotive composites market is expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2021. However, while market projections signal promise for composites in automotive, the composites industry still has two major barriers to overcome – increased OEM awareness and acceptance.
In 2016, ACMA launched an event series called No Limits Composites to connect its members with major OEMs. In addition to serving as a platform for ACMA members’ products, the event gives OEMs the chance to foster a deeper connection within the design community and supply chain. While the first No Limits event was successful, ACMA’s March 2018 event at Ford took OEM engagement to new heights, exposing more than 500 engineers to 70+ composite components from ACMA members.
“It’s like making 300 sales calls in one day. It’s been very beneficial to talk to these people, find out what they do, find out what their challenges are and see if we can come up with a match,” said Eric Heilshorn, Product Manager at 3A Composites.
“What a fantastic opportunity to be at an OEM where we’re exposed to all their engineers, all their decision makers, and everyone thinking about where they’re headed next with their materials,” added Kelly Wessner, Global Marketing Director at PolyOne.
While the event is a great platform to display products, it also supports ACMA’s efforts to help the composites industry speak with a unified voice. As companies like Ford looks to consolidate their vehicle portfolios in the North American market, it is important for members of the composites industry supply chain to work together to provide solutions that help OEMs meet their evolving needs.
“It takes a community to advance an industry. There’s no one company here who has the complete solution, and I think it takes an industry association like ACMA to bring us all together and … make sure we put together something that’s cohesive as an industry so that we’re growing the use of composite materials, which is going to benefit all of us,” said Dustin Davis, Director of Technology at Norplex-Micarta.
If you would like to participate in future OEM technology demonstration events, consider joining ACMA’s Automotive Composites Alliance.