Wed, 15 April, 2020
Supporting Industry with Electrification
TWI has a longstanding track record of providing industry with expert advice and practical solutions to address technical needs in materials, manufacturing and inspection. This includes helping to progress the latest technological advances, such as the current move towards electrification for the automotive and, to a lesser extent, aerospace industries.
We have been working to deliver solutions for the manufacture of battery packs, with 2019 seeing TWI making over three million production welds to support battery assembly. We are now expanding our scope of support to include design for batteries and tooling, battery tray production, sensor attachment, and more.
Current Industry Needs
With TWI already acting as the source of expertise for battery assembly and safe working practice for electrification in the UK, we are now ready to expand our focus further to address more industry needs in this area.
This work is in support of government targets to phase out the use of hydrocarbon powered vehicles by 2035, with current and future industrial needs highlighted in areas including:
- Process comparison and down-selection
- Design support (including tooling)
- Manufacturing process development
- Manufacturing process support and trouble shooting
- Testing and validation
- Electrical testing
- Standards development
Supporting the future of electrification also involves continuing our work assisting with battery pack manufacture as companies seek to set up suitable facilities. TWI has been able to help with knowledge around processes and the resultant joints. Although laser welding is currently the favoured technology for battery pack joining in the UK, other processes such as wire bonding and micro-pulse TIG have been shown to have uses in certain applications.
Centre of Excellence
In order to expand our activities in relation to electrification, TWI is creating a Centre of Excellence at TWI Cambridge on Granta Park. This £2 million centre will consolidate our electrification activities and will include joining, testing and validation services to allow for the development of rapid, economic and reliable manufacturing methods.
The centre will also provide R&D for current and future electric vehicles as well as investigating other intensive uses for rechargeable battery systems, such as domestic and grid energy storage for the power industry.
Activities will include developing re-work and repair processes, as well as recycling of components. This will offer both environmental and economic benefits as high value elements such as lithium and cobalt could be recovered at end-of-life.
In order to achieve our aims and continue to progress the course of electrification across industry, TWI will incorporate existing laser and wire bonding equipment with a specialist Dage BondTester for tensile and fatigue testing of joints.
Additional equipment within the Centre will include:
- High speed Friction Stir Welding system operating at 3x current production speeds for assembly of battery enclosures
- Dedicated micro-arc welding for interconnection of cells
- Dedicated resistance welder for interconnection of cells
- Ultrasonic welding equipment for interconnection of cells
- High throughput wire/ribbon bonding head for interconnection of cells
- Battery charging/discharging station for life-cycling battery assemblies
- Battery performance test facility for electrically testing battery assemblies
- Flash thermography equipment for thermally testing battery assemblies
- Encapsulation/potting facility for assembling battery arrays
We will of course keep you updated as the Centre of Excellence progresses but, in the meantime, you can find out more about electrification for the automotive industry here.