When designing the Elise, Lotus made the decision to use an aluminium spaceframe both to save weight and for cosmetic reasons. Instead of conventional joining techniques it was decided that adhesive bonding would be the best method of providing accuracy, repeatability and additional weight savings.
TWI was consulted and worked with the car manufacturer on joint design. A study of the joints established the relationship between stress concentrations and the aspect ratio of the joint. With this information, together with existing work from Lotus on quantified suspension loads, it was possible to begin to quantify the bond areas.
TWI was also able to reassure Lotus about the testing of these joints.
TWI convinced the client that the greatest effort should go into creating a bullet-proof process rather than spending £500,000 on equipment to test the bonds.
Currently one of Lotus' adhesively bonded chassis is displayed in a prominent position in the atrium of TWI's corporate headquarters.
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