Composite Materials a Common Thread in Aerospace, Automotive Industries – Upstate Business Journal

Chomarat North America President Brian Laufenberg speaks about the company’s Anderson County plant production capabilities and materials innovation during the Composites Suppliers Meetings South Carolina.

By Jacob Hickman, director of business recruitment, Upstate SC Alliance

Lighter. Stronger. Faster.

Did your mind immediately jump to your exercise mantra? It’s a natural progression of thought.

Just as increasing our agility, speed, and strength may define our personal fitness goals, many manufacturers today are looking to decrease the weight and production time of their products while increasing load-bearing capacities and extending shelf lives.

It’s a shared goal in the aerospace and automotive industries, especially as they face regulatory challenges on one end (think: fuel and emissions standards) and global competition on another (think: price margins).

With these business needs in mind, 100 companies from six countries attended the Composites Suppliers Meetings South Carolina event earlier this month. The business-to-business event connected composite manufacturers and users from industries such as automotive, aerospace, defense, and renewable energy.

The event was the first of its kind for our state, and our region was selected with recognition of our proximity to an established supply chain that’s already serving automotive and aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Within the Upstate alone, the advanced materials cluster includes 883 businesses and 40,380 employees – that’s 84 percent higher than the national average.

Companies within our region, and their talented engineers, are developing and producing materials that solve industry challenges for some of the world’s most complex products – innovations now found in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner to BMW’s X models.

For the major companies that participated – BMW, Toray, and Lockheed Martin – the event offered a chance to explore technical capabilities with a number of suppliers. For the suppliers, it offered insights into how they can work with OEMs to explore

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