My work for Manufacturing Extension Partnership gives me the opportunity to see the world’s most advanced machinery. The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) boasts a 4,000-ton Schuler press capable of producing advanced parts as thin as .01 inches with composite materials and high strength metals. Valued at $6 M, the press accommodates a wide range of parameters for research purposes. I was my privilege to see a one of a kind machine in Corktown, Detroit with Ray Boeman, the director of the IACMI Scale-Up Research Facility (SURF) where the press is used to collaborate with small manufacturers and OEMs alike. IACMI has the only Schuler press in North America that is available to U.S. companies to collaborate and test materials to keep pace with the global competition for composites superiority. The press is available for private use or in partnership with IACMI and the Dept of Energy.
Paul Nicholson, the CEO of Schuler North America says “our technology not only offers a dynamic force control for reduced energy consumption, but also a greatly reduced mold try-out and wear compensation which ensures a fast development process for IACMI. Furthermore, the congruent bending lines of slide and table compensate natural variations in process variables and materials.”1
Many U.S. companies currently offer world class advanced composites products at low volumes. However, it would be very difficult for most companies to bid on a large volume project due to access to equipment, experience running machines and familiarity with specialized high volume materials. The Schuler press allows companies the ability to follow a growth path toward high volumes of parts for OEMs. The following video provides more details about the facility and equipment at the Scale Up Facility.