THE FUTURE OF COMPOSITES

'New advanced vehicles will need composites'

Interview with Giuseppe Zanuccoli, Production Engineer at Sauber Motorsport AG

CompositesPortal.com continues its deepening in the future of composites. Here it is the interview with Giuseppe Zanuccoli*, Production Engineer at Sauber Motorsport AG.

What will be the real future of composites in the global market today?
"I see a good level of maturity of the market. Composites are not perceived anymore as the alternative material to every other solution but, finally, as materials with their own strengths; therefore they are used where their performance provide a real advantage. The development of production’s high volumes technologies has helped a lot this development while the high costs of the raw materials is still a limiting factor".

We talk more and more about electric cars. What role will composites play in the transformation process of one of the leading sectors of industry?
"All the sorts of vehicles have a great advantage in their life cycle from a lightweight construction. Nowadays composites haven’t any competitor when we focus on the structural optimization, the designer and aerodynamicist freedom to develop vehicle as optimized as possible regarding ergonomics, aerodynamics and pure design. In short term, let’s say 5 to 10 years, I can’t imagine new advanced vehicles coming to the market in which an extensive and optimized use of the material is not implemented".

The super-light and resistant composites are by definition materials of innovation. Are there other materials that are likely to supplant them?
"Composites have their own place in the industrial world, I don’t see any alternative short term. What is happening is a more focused use of composites, less “black metal” approach and more focus on extracting the best performances out of them. Currently additive manufacturing is growing with an incredible high rate, many market players are investing massively in this technology. It’s a virtually scrap free, environmentally friendly technology and therefore it’s easy to understand why. All that said, its current focus is on applications which are not in conflict with the growth of the composites market".

Which is the ideal composites company? What features should it have to excel over the others?
In my opinion, a composites company needs the capability of supporting the customer since the preliminary definition of the product, especially focusing on design for manufacturing. A very strong know how of the technology and the materials involved is expected, a key to succeed successfully is avoiding to impose its own quality standards to the customer rather than using the specific know how to develop a product which will lead to a win-win partnership. In simple words, an ideal composites company needs the capability to adapt to the customers’ need thanks to its own experience on the field.

In which fields could composites be more exploited than now?
"Materials’ prices are still very high. Until these costs won’t shrink massively, I struggle to believe that brand new markets will show real interest in composites. The other limiting factor is recycling and pollution in the various production stages.
Nevertheless, I am surprised that many high-end sports’ car are made with small quantity of composites parts and, sometimes, the parts selected to have the traditional materials replaced by composites provide negligible performances advantages. In this field, there is still a relevant growth margin for the composites market".

Born in Catania 1979, he graduated in mechanical engineering at Bolognas university in 2004. The experience with composites materials started in 2004 with an internship in Ferrari F1, he has worked for ATR Group, Toyota Motorsport, Carbon Dream, Scuderia Toro Rosso. He is the Production Engineer at Sauber Motorsport AG since June 2017.

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