- materials (biobased or synthetic, their physical and chemical properties, features, etc.)
- their transformation (processing methods, novel features and functions, design, etc.)
- their uses (materials with mechanical properties, biocompatible materials, etc.)
- their environmental impact (product life cycle, recyclability, the circular economy, re-use, upcycling, etc.)
We help businesses with their plans to improve materials and/or their processing methods, so they can meet their clients’ expectations, steer their development projects, fulfil regulatory requirements and tackle the challenges facing their sector of activity.
What do we mean by ‘materials’?
Materials are matter of natural or synthetic origin, used to make all the objects, machines and buildings around us or even inside us (in this case, we refer to ‘biomaterials’, used to repair or regenerate the human body). A material is a substance: matter to be processed. A single object can be made from different materials; a single material can be used to make different objects.
The definition of material in the Cambridge Dictionary
MATERIAL • noun (physical thing)
A type of physical thing, such as wood, stone, or plastic, having qualities that allow it to be used to make other things:
- a hard/soft material
- the sculpture was made of various materials, includingsteel, copperwire, and rubber.
Material’ is, therefore, an umbrella term, covering textiles, plastics, glass, paper & cardboard, wood, metal, ceramic, polymers (natural fibres, plastics, rubber, glues, paints, resins, etc.) and composites, to name but a few.
Together with our members and partners, we tackle a broad range of topics concerning the provenance of materials (inorganic, organic, metallic), their manufacture (for example, assembly of materials to produce composites), their physical and chemical properties, and their features (composition, hardness, temperature, resistance, conductivity, workability, corrosion resistance, environmental impact, etc.).
Here at EuraMaterials, we have made a conscious effort to move away from a silo mentality and a top-down decision-making structure. We employ a matrix management approach to materials and the matters at hand, and the innovation or development projects often involve several different materials.
What are the ‘materials processing industries’?
As the name implies, the materials processing industries group together all the industrial sectors that process materials.
Insee industry definitions
The materials processing industries belong to several categories determined by the Insee, France’s national institute for statistics and economic studies:
- manufacturing industries: industries transforming goods: manufacturing industries in their own right, repair and installation of industrial equipment, subcontracting
[including the manufacture of food products, textiles, wearing apparel, wood and products of wood, paper and paper products, chemicals and chemical products, pharmaceutical products, rubber and plastic products, other non-metallic mineral products, basic metals, fabricated metal products, motor vehicles, other transport equipment, repair and installation of machinery and equipment]
- industries producing intermediate goods: activities producing goods that are usually destined to be incorporated into other goods or which are destroyed by their use to produce other goods [including mineral products, textiles, wood and paper, chemicals, rubber and plastics, metal and transformation of metal, electric and electronic components]
- industries producing capital goods: producing durable goods used mainly to produce other goods [shipbuilding, aeronautics and rail construction, mechanical equipment, electrical and electronic equipment]
- consumer goods industries: activities producing goods intended for consumption by households [clothing and leather, publishing, printing and reproduction, pharmacy, perfumes, maintenance, household equipment]
‘The materials and processing sector plays a vital role in the modern economy. It is responsible for producing diverse metals and materials and processing them so they can be used to make all kinds of goods: consumer goods, industrial machinery, tinned food, motor vehicles and tyres and so on. It is one of France’s biggest industrial employers and engages a huge range of different professions.’ • Le Parisien Étudiant
We concern ourselves with a broad range of topics, from the processing and shaping of materials, the properties of novel materials and the functions they enable, to their design.
On the business side of things, we address both the industrial companies that process materials and the companies that use these materials.
On the research and training side of things, we work with researchers involved in the design, characterisation and modelling of materials. These researchers come from laboratories concerned with textile engineering, materials & processing, catalysis & solid-state chemistry, processing & agricultural resources, laser physics, electronics & nanotechnologies, mechanical engineering, IT and digital technology, spectrochemistry, agrifood & biotechnology, electrical engineering, environmental chemistry, and molecular structure, etc.
Focus on the textile industry
The textile industry is the product of a lengthy French manufacturing tradition and now occupies an important place in the Hauts-de-France region and in France – Europe’s second-largest producer of technical textiles, behind Germany – as a whole.
Globalisation and price wars have, however, forced manufacturers to reorganise themselves and concentrate on activities with higher added value. The textile industry is simultaneously ‘mature’ and ‘evolving’: it is reinventing itself through innovation, modern technologies and new models that set it apart.
Vidéo French TEX “Le textile est partout” :
Here are a few of the businesses concerned: Cousin Biotech (surgical products), Damart (technical clothing), Decathlon (sport and recreation R&D), Dickson Constant / Glen Raven (weaving for technical outdoor fabrics), Duflot Industrie (non-woven products), Ferlam Technologies (thermal insulation), Mortelecque (filtration), PGI (non-woven products), Pronal (flexible structures), TRP Charvet (weaving), Cousin Trestec (sport and recreation), etc.
Focus on plastics processing and composites
When we refer to ‘plastics processing’ here, we mean the entire industry that transforms plastics into finished or part-finished products. The field is made up of four complementary sectors of activity:
- plastics producers
- manufacturers of machinery and peripheral devices
- manufacturers of moulds and equipment
- plastics moulders and processors (parts and assemblies)
Composite materials (such as carbon fibre, plywood and reinforced concrete) combine at least two materials and their advantages for improved overall performance.
The field also includes biobased plastics, used to produce renewable products made wholly or partially from plant-based carbon. These plastics can be made from entire plants, starch extracted from cereals or potatoes, glucose derived from starch, or vegetable oil.
Many challenges are on the horizon, such as recycling and reuse as part of the circular economy. Regional businesses in the plastics processing sector are having to deal with a raft of changes, such as a drop in overall consumption, changes to the type of raw material (recycled or plant-based plastic, for example), a shift in demand, and the erosion of competitiveness.
With our support, these businesses are encouraged to embark on three main strategies:
- cost optimisation
- revitalisation of sales policies
Here are a few of the businesses concerned: Faurecia, Valéo, Flo Europe, Jokey France, Mecacorp, Nidaplast, Wecosta, Soplaril, Wipak, RKW Remy, etc.
Markets that use plastics & composites are also very active when it comes to producing innovative new materials. These markets include:
- agrifood, in terms of packaging (product safety, regulatory compliance, appearance and practicality) with stakeholders such as Bonduelle, General Mills, McCain and Findus, and supermarket own brands
- aerospace and the automotive industry, which combine textile reinforcements and plastic resins, with companies such as Aérolia, Stelia Aerospace, Toyota Boshoku, Renault and PSA
Several biobased composites and plastics are being developed within our ecosystem. The goal is to develop functionalized materials made from renewable resources. Projects include USABLE PACKAGING, GLOPACK, SeaBioComp…
Focus on the glass industry
The glass industry can be divided into three areas:
- container glass, primarily used for packaging and tableware (businesses include Arc and Saverglass)
- flat glass, mainly used for windows by the housing and automotive sectors (companies include AGC Glass and Saint-Gobain Sekurit)
- glass fibre, for insulation or the reinforcement of plastics
The major challenges faced by all three areas are process innovation, energy consumption, and reducing production costs. For container glass, in particular, efforts are focused on traceability and personalisation.
We are supporting several glass-based projects, including Traçaverre and a collaborative ‘process upgrade’-type project which began in 2018. This concerns the finalisation/decoration stage of production (personalisation and reduction of energy use).
Focus on the paper, pulp and cardboard industry
The world of paper and cardboard is undergoing massive changes. Technological advances are contributing to its development. The aim is to keep improving the industry’s response to the expectations of society in terms of functionalization, recycling, traceability and energy consumption.
A few of the businesses in the sector: Cartonneries de Gondardennes Wardrecques, Express Packaging, Mulliez Richebé, Ondulys, Ahlstrom Munksjo, SICAL, Smurfit Kappa France SAS, etc.
What kind of processes are we talking about?
Manufacturers transform materials to give them a particular shape or structure, or specific functions or properties.
To process materials, manufacturers use different techniques on the one hand – depending on the properties of the materials, the markets in question, the desired features and uses – and a set of cross-disciplinary technologies on the other. Simultaneously, advanced materials are playing a major role in the transformation of businesses. In essence, they are one of the drivers of tomorrow’s economy, a linchpin of the fourth industrial revolution and a response to major societal and environmental issues.
How are we supporting innovation in the materials processing industries?
The EuraMaterials roadmap sets out two major pillars of our response to the technological and non-technological challenges facing the materials processing industries.
The first pillar is based on the idea of ‘advanced materials’.
- 3D forming of multilayer composites and hybridization of materials
- tensile strength of tensile structures
- filter media with a large specific surface area
- rheology of polymers in multimaterial laminates
- multilayer coatings
- biocompatible substances
- structures that promote cell growth
Mastering new properties and functions of materials
- functionalization via catalysis, plasma, supercritical CO₂, etc.
- maintaining performance under extreme conditions
- surface activation
- flameproofing natural materials
- antibacterial functionalization
- piezoelectric fibres for use in textile structures
Developing and processing eco-friendly materials & ecodesign
- competitively priced biodegradable materials and textiles
- cost and performance of composites made from agricultural waste
- quality and price of recycled fibres and polymers
- performance consistency of natural materials
- performance of biobased materials and materials made from agricultural waste compared with synthetic materials
- replacement of fluorocarbons (PFCs)
Interactive structures and materials
- inserting sensors into fibres, resins and structures
- conductive polymers
- controlled release of active ingredients
- increasing the performance of phase change materials (PCMs) / resistance to wear and tear
- variable geometry or shape memory textiles and materials
- insertion of identifiers into matter for traceability or anti-counterfeiting purposes
- self-regulating thermal fibres
- anti-odour fibres
The second pillar involves supporting businesses on their journey towards the ‘industry of the future’.
Businesses of the future
From product to service with high added value
• additional multisensory, non-technological values
• new, innovative approaches (co-design, bio-inspiration, etc.)
• new economic models / functional service economy
• training and new skills
Transformation and improvement of methods and processes
• automation and robotization of manufacturing
• digitalisation and modelling of products and methods
• new processing methods with low environmental impact (energy, water, carbon footprint, emissions, etc.)
• prototyping and metrology
• artificial intelligence