Century is a GKN-led consortium looking to increase the supply chain readiness to support the automotive sector’s move towards high volumes of composites in vehicles.
Car manufacturers are looking to composites as a key material group to reduce vehicle emissions through weight reduction, though previously this has been the reserve of low volume manufacturing. In order for manufacturers such as JLR and Nissan to take advantage of the opportunities provided by composites, the manufacturing process for components must meet a 60 second production cycle time.
GKN’s aim is to take representative target parts from the project advisory board (consisting of JLR, Nissan, Bentley and McLaren) and present a costed and demonstrated manufacturing solution targeted at a production rate of approximately 50,000 vehicles per year.
As part of this project, TWI has been assisting in the development of non-destructive testing and joining techniques suitable for high volume automotive production cycles.
The chosen demonstrator component is a lower suspension arm, which has been redesigned for manufacture in composites. This has provided TWI with a number of challenges both with the inspection of the finished composite components and the integration of bushes and other load introduction points.
The project team have identified a number of opportunities to demonstrate TWI knowledge around the integration of bushes into the composite component. Technologies such as Surfi-Sculpt and Co-Meld have been proposed to fix the bush in place during the moulding process step, where TWI’s experience in composite-to-metal and rubber-to-composite joining will also be used to develop the bonding methodology to be integrated into the production process.
TWI are also demonstrating new NDT methods to allow for fast inspections in line with the needs of a 60 second cycle time (go-no go) and more in-depth techniques for off-line inspection of parts failing the initial inspection.
The aim of this work is to provide GKN with a solution that allows them to cost-effectively and reliably produce composite components for their automotive customers, at the rates that their high-volume products require.
For more information please contact us.