TWI has a long association with automotive and road transport companies so this sector naturally became a focus of attention when Industry Teams were established. Headed by John Kell, who has worked for a major automotive supplier -Tower Automotive, the Road Transport Industry Team ensures that the needs of the industry are met with respect to joining and associated technologies. Motorsport organisations, such as McLaren F1, have benefited from TWI's understanding of composite materials and their performance under different loading conditions. Lotus sought assistance when considering adhesive bonding for the chassis of the Elise.
The production of tailor-welded blanks for body panels requires joining of different thickness sheet; TWI pioneered laser welding for the application and is now researching the possibilities for hybrid laser welding and frictionstir welding. These modern welding processes are also of use to the truck and bus producers. Light weighting is of particular interest to automotive builders and the expertise at TWI in joining aluminium, magnesium and plastics is proving its worth. A recent project produced an on-line knowledge database for the use of aluminium in automotive structures and components.
In addition to traditional joining issues, surfacing and coating are areas of significant expertise. Surfacing techniques such as plasma and high velocity oxy-fuel spraying are being increasingly used in engine manufacture and TWI has invested in a new, fully equipped facility to build on its record of success with these techniques. A novel development has been the invention of a hardcoat based on sol-gel chemistry, Vitresyn, that combines excellent flexibility, adhesion and abrasion resistance.
Interest in this material is being shown for a whole variety of applications, from protection of paintwork to abrasion resistant plastic fittings and vehicle glazing. The product is at the point of commercial exploitation and partners are being sought to assist with the development to full production.
These applications and greater detail on the benefits of using TWI services are given on the website under Road Transport. Please take a look to see how TWI could help your company or contact the Automotive Team who will be pleased to assist.