Smart and sustainable manufacturing pilot plants

30 November 2023

“Achieving climate neutrality through a sustainable model in sectors such as mobility, energy and construction is the biggest challenge facing industry today”

TECNALIA is accelerating the innovation and market entry process of new products based on advanced materials. In order to do this, it is working with companies such as IGESTEK

Achieving climate neutrality through a sustainable model in sectors such as mobility, energy or construction is the biggest challenge facing industry today. Smart products based on advanced materials are set to play a major role when innovating and accelerating the transition.

In this context, smart and sustainable manufacturing of advanced materials plays a decisive role. With this in mind, TECNALIA has set up two pilot plants in the Basque Country, with the aim of promoting smart and sustainable manufacturing and accelerating the market entry of multifunctional products. Both pilot plants complement their offer with technological and business services that are essential in order to guarantee that new products enter the market.

CIRMETAL plant: metal product innovation process

One of the plants, called CIRMETAL, is located in Irún. It is a technological infrastructure available to the metallurgical industry, designed to accelerate the innovation process of new metal products. The plant has unique equipment to develop eco-designed alloys and components, with ad-hoc functionalities and properties, and technology for critical material recycling and recovery. The aim is to offer the Basque metallurgical industry strategies and solutions with a circular economy approach. Innovative solutions such as new alloys to work in hydrogen environments, lightweight and multifunctional components for new mobility and critical material recycling and recovery technology.

BUCKYPAPERS plant: flexible films manufacturing

The other plant, called BUCKYPAPERS, is located in Donostia-San Sebastián. This technological infrastructure, the first of its kind in Europe, focuses on manufacturing thin (mm), porous multifunctional flexible films, with high electrical conductivity. The combination of buckypapers with polymers and composites offers multifunctional solutions with additional functionalities such as higher electrical conductivity, resistive heating and sensing capabilities.

TECNALIA is currently working with transport, construction and energy companies to develop solutions such as prefabricated panels with energy storage capacity for fast charging of mobile devices; repair/curing of composite parts; light battery boxes that do not heat up; and heated vehicle interiors with sensing capacity, fire resistance and increased thermal insulation.

Carrying out projects

It is worth highlighting the work carried out with IGESTEK, a company based in Derio that specialised in the development of lightweighting solutions using plastics and composites. This company and TECNALIA have developed a heating system based on BUCKYPAPER technology for exterior vehicle body panels. These thermoplastic panels enable the airbag to be deployed correctly by ensuring a controlled rupture of the bonnet, regardless of environmental conditions. It is an airbag system that protects against external impacts which will be located under these panels.

One of the developments carried out at the CIRMETAL plant has been a new design of an aircraft assembly column. A bio-inspired design coupled with an advanced manufacturing process has created a prototype based on recycled aluminium; 70% lighter and with improved vibration properties. This project, carried out jointly between TECNALIA and the UPV/EHU, was manufactured at the CIRMETAL pilot plant and has won an award at this year’s Advanced Manufacturing Awards at MetalMadrid.

Both plants are part of the technology infrastructure network called OASIS-composites-OITB, which aims to be a single entry point to develop advanced and functional materials and to accelerate the innovation process and their entry into the market. Companies such as Igestek, Acciona, Thales Alenia Space, VDL, Airbus, Pleione and Ford have had the opportunity to implement in real cases the tangible materials and components developed through our plants and associated services.