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12 AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2013
COMPOSITES TECH CENTRE
The newly announced ZF Composites Tech Centre at Schweinfurt in Germany is set to
revolutionise the volume manufacturing of Fibre-Reinforced Plastics (FRP), paving
the way for new lightweight products into the future.
Set to advance all areas of the ZF Group,
the facility will cover an area of 400 square
metres, with room for future expansion.
At the heart of the ZF Composites Tech
Centre is a press, which can be used to
produce components from duroplastic
materials via the Resin Transfer Moulding
(RTM) process, with the setup ideal for
producing prototype parts for passenger and
The tech centre will also use a high-
pressure injection unit for various resin
hardening systems, while other support
systems include a robot as well as infrared
and tempering furnaces.
Since the beginning of 2012, ZF has
invested a total of EUR 3.1 million in
infrastructure for the centre, with Dr Ignacio
Lobo Casanova initially leading four
The centre will have several tasks, the
first being researching different RTM
processes and developing the hardware to
produce improved products.
“Part of our basic research work aims at
making samples available from different
material systems in order to determine the
corresponding material characteristics,” Dr
“These again are stored as material
models in a simulation process chain, in
order to be able to use simulations in the
future to make product and process
Other roles for the centre include
investigating the bonding methods used in
RTM production, as well as being integrated
into existing ZF projects developing
lightweight design concepts.
Some of the projects currently on the
drawing board include passenger car
components, such as a lightweight
suspension strut and knuckle design, as
well as a wheel guiding transverse spring.
The premise of the knuckle is to produce
a part that weighs half as much as the
current steel component, with the FRP
transverse spring showing a weight saving
of 15 percent.
For commercial vehicles, a four-point
truck chassis link is being developed by ZF
engineers, with projections showing a
potential weight saving of 25 percent over
the current cast item.
Over the entire ZF Group, there are
approximately 30 development engineers
who are currently working in projects where
FRP materials experience is vital, with all
of these staff set to take advantage of the
ZF Composites Tech Centre’s research.
Dr Michael Heselhaus is the project
manager in charge of setting up the ZF
Composites Tech Centre.
“One essential additional task of the ZF
Composites Tech Centre is the group-wide
transfer of knowledge as well as
consultancy and qualification for all ZF
divisions and other development locations,”
The new centre won’t be solely focused
on producing new vehicle components, as
the FRP technology is hoped to enhance
tooling for the production of several items,
including large scale sheet materials, and
plastics injection moulding.
Michael Hankel is a member of the ZF
Board of Management responsible for the
Car Powertrain Technology and Car Chassis
Technology divisions as well as Corporate
“In the past few years, we have
established vast basic knowledge and
gained experience in lightweight design and
we have increasingly been using fiber-
reinforced plastics for this purpose,” Mr
“With the ZF Composites Tech Centre,
we are now focusing specifically on the
process technologies for volume production
using these materials, and we want to make
this knowledge available throughout the
NEW CARSALES NATIONAL
display advertising sales
appointment of Michael
Holmes to National Sales
Director - Dealer and
Mr Holmes will report directly to carsales.com Ltd’s
Commercial Director and MediaMotive head, Anthony
Saines, in the newly created position.
Mr Holmes will be based in MediaMotive’s Sydney
office and manage a national team of 20 servicing
carsales’ automotive, motorcycle, marine and industrial
“We’re delighted to have secured Michael’s
services,” Mr Saines said.
“He’s an executive of the highest calibre and one
that we’ve coveted for a number of years.
“Michael will lift our profile and professionalism as
we continue to grow the MediaMotive business.”
Mr Holmes has more than 20 years of experience in
the automotive industry and was at the forefront of
dealer online advertising in its early years.
Most recently he has spent five years with QBE
Insurance, where he led a team of automotive insurance
professionals in a start-up capacity.
The QBE role also entailed a secondment to
Queensland for two years, providing exposure to that
long established market.
His experience in the online automotive market
dates back to 2002. Then with Fairfax Digital’s online
motoring division, Mr Holmes developed unique display
and classifieds listing products for an Australia-wide
dealer customer group.
“Display advertising is an important tool for dealers
that wish to stand out from the crowd,” Mr Holmes said.
“As part of the carsales.com Ltd ‘family’,
MediaMotive is thus becoming a very important
business partner of car dealers right around the country.
“I’m very excited to lead a team of high-calibre
individuals, and play my part in a business that has
such enormous potential.”
Representing carsales.com Ltd’s network of
websites, MediaMotive generated billings of more than
$50m in 2012.
The in-house operation has grown from 11 staff in
2009 to more than 60, with representation in
Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane.
Via its exclusive representation of carsales.com Ltd’s
network of automotive websites, MediaMotive is
Australia's largest automotive online advertising
For more information call Mr Saines on 03 9093 8600.
ZF CEO Dr Stefan Sommer (right) and ZF Board Member
Michael Hankel open the new ZF Composites Tech Centre at
the company’s Schweinfurt location in Germany.
AAAM SEPT 2013:AM MAGAZINE SHELL 5/9/13 2:22 PM Page 12
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