Mark Murfitt is the director of market development for Core Molding Technologies, a composite manufacturer in the heavy truck and automotive industries, and has worked there for the past 12 years in operational and commercial roles. Murfitt recently volunteered to head the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s Automotive Composites Committee (ACMA-ACA), which met Monday, September 12 at the Society of Plastic Engineers Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (SPE ACCE) in Troy, Mich. Here, he shares his thoughts about recent advancements in composite manufacturing, new fuel efficient standards and their effect on the composites industry within automotive applications.
What are some important trends that you’ve noticed in the automotive composites?
The changes the Obama administration has made to fuel efficient standards for trucks and the new CAFE standards are opening great opportunities for the composite industry. One easy way for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to take weight out of vehicles is to use alternate materials. I don’t foresee any of the standards going down in the future. If anything, I think we are going to continue to see more stringent standards.
How can the industry increase its competitive edge in the automotive market?
As an industry, we need to gain a much better understanding of what the requirements for our materials will be so we can build the correct systems to meet those expectations. Certainly as time goes on and things change, it will be important that the industry stays current with those changes.
What do you view as the biggest obstacle to increased composite usage?
One of the biggest obstacles we currently face is that we need to educate the automotive industry about the various capabilities of composites. There are still some floating opinions regarding the ineffectiveness of composites in automotive applications. Numerous recent advancements have improved our products and now it’s a matter of getting everyone educated on what composites are and how they can help. I believe ACMA’s new Automotive Composites Alliance (ACA) committee is a step in the right direction.
Why get involved in the ACA Committee relaunch?
The ACA has a great background in improving and developing the composite automotive industry. When we started discussing the re-launch of ACA, and in light of the new changes to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards, I saw this as an opportunity to build on previous successes and redefine the direction of the alliance. Vehicle lightweighting has the potential to develop the automotive composites market as a whole. Additionally, if we’re going to affectively impact a market, we need to get in at the lowest level possible and start to educate people about our materials because education is the key to success in new markets like this one. After all, there are plenty of benefits to all of the different materials and material development leads to opportunities.