Read on for an exclusive interview on this innovative new technology. We at Cannon would like to thank Magna Exteriors for their time and expertise.
The transformations in the automotive sector, already been underway for several years, accelerated in early 2021 after a significant slowdown due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Highly stringent CO2 emission limits, primarily imposed by the EU, are leading to increasing penetration of electric vehicles, more efficient energy use, and lighter vehicle mass. It is estimated that, on average, a 100 kg weight reduction will reduce CO2 emissions by 10 g/km.
In this scenario, innovation and sustainability are the concepts driving the activities of car manufacturers, which are investing even more in research and development projects to find new solutions for meeting environmental goals, including emission reduction and fuel savings.
The Magna Group, North America’s largest auto parts manufacturer, has made sustainability its strength, combatting climate change through the creation of innovative products and energy-conscious manufacturing.
The composite space frame liftgate reinforcement is one of these innovative products. Developed at Magna Exteriors’ facility in the Czech Republic in partnership with Cannon, the composite space frame is a tubular frame with a polyurethane core foam, covered with a layer of continuous glass fiber infused with a polyurethane thermoset resin.
This new technology can be employed for other applications, helping car manufacturers meet their target of vehicle mass reduction.
Read on for information directly from the source in the following interview with Magna Exteriors:
CANNON NEWS: Let’s start with your thoughts on sustainability: how do you interpret this concept, and what goals have you set for the short term?
Magna Exteriors: At Magna, our sustainability goals are people, product, and process. Our mission is to deliver solutions for a better tomorrow. We are focused on delivering products that help customers achieve their sustainability goals, including reaching a carbon-neutral future and improving fuel economy. With innovative products and energy-conscious manufacturing, we fight climate change and reduce our global carbon footprint. Our short-term approach to sustainability is to be carbon neutral by 2025 in our European operations and by 2030 in our global operations.
CN: Innovation is in your DNA, and you are globally recognized for your solutions in terms of lightweight design, autonomy, and electrification of vehicles and smart mobility. What is the “secret ingredient” of your R&D Department and in what direction is it moving?
ME: At Magna, we are constantly innovating and looking for new opportunities to continue to grow. We do this by making sure that we are aligned with our industry and consumer trends to find the openings where innovation can develop. Ultimately, it comes down to our people who are doing the work. Our engineers are experts in solving problems and finding innovative solutions for not only our products but our manufacturing processes as well.
CN: Magna products are synonymous with exclusive quality, which can be granted also by extending the concept of quality to the entire manufacturing system. What are the “must-haves” from your suppliers from a quality perspective?
ME: From a quality perspective, we would expect our suppliers to meet the same quality standards we have at Magna Exteriors. In addition, we want our suppliers to consider cost and process efficiency in all of their solutions. Innovation is our core. Our suppliers should continue to bring innovations and new innovative materials when collaborating on projects.
CN: Let’s talk about the relationship with Cannon: which reasons drive Magna to select Cannon as a partner to develop a new, revolutionary approach for HP-RTM Technology?
ME: Magna initially selected Cannon as a partner for the Composite Spaceframe development due to their ability to provide all the necessary machinery; presses, dosing units and molds. What helped turn this idea into a reality is their strong R&D team and their open-mindedness to the ideas we brought to them. We had interesting brainstorming sessions where the word “no” was never said. No matter what, we were able to find a solution.
CN: Which are the advantages of this solution?
ME: This is the first high-volume application of space frame reinforcement technology for automotive tailgates and liftgates. The Magna Exteriors engineering team, with the help of several machines, materials, and tool suppliers, combined its unique knowledge about design, materials, and processing to address the challenge of reducing weight using composite materials and manufacturing processes. The result achieves a 10% mass reduction over steel reinforcements and meets all OEM performance requirements. This innovation has changed the view of standard rear door production. It gave room for new design features, more complicated and bolder shapes, and finally, reduced weight. The competition also offers plastic rear doors but with far smaller dimensions, because they do not have a reinforcing element like our composite frame. We are much more flexible and offer customers much more freedom and customization.
CN: And now a look to the future: what challenges will you face?
ME: Looking to the future, Magna will face many challenges that we will need to consider as we develop our products: powertrain architecture and electrification, changing consumer interests and the increased need for lightweighting. With that, there are increasing demands for sustainable solutions that will drive us to further develop materials, processes, and manufacturing to meet OEM requirements. Of course, we are also always looking at improving efficiency in our costs through developing more innovative ways to make our product and manufacturing solutions more efficient. Lastly, we are challenged with the globalization of our processes and materials as we gain new customers in new regions. There will always be challenges ahead, but Magna can overcome them.