A University of Leuven research project in cooperation with Samsonite results in the world's best selling line of suitcases.
Samsonite, a leading luggage manufacturer, wanted to develop a lightweight, strong suitcase using a synthetic composite material called Curv®. Professor Ignaas Verpoest of the KU Leuven Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering (MTM) teamed up with Samsonite in the early 00’s to adapt the material for the production of suitcases. The team developed a layered design in which a top layer of material provides protection against scratches, while additional middle layers enhance the impact resistance. This new design requires a specific method of manufacturing, because the Curv® panels have to be stamped in the shape of a suitcase.
The first prototypes of the suitcases were made in Leuven in collaboration with Professor Vandepitte of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 2009, Samsonite launched the Cosmolite® line of suitcases based on the KU Leuven technology of which over 2 million have been produced.