Increasing international competition and the need to meet tightening environmental legislation mean that automotive suppliers are constantly seeking to reduce the weight of cars while also increasing comfort and safety for drivers and passengers. Lighter designs and new, lighter materials present joining issues, and their use as combinations in structural components creates the need for inputs from TWI, ranging from knowledge of best practice to truly innovative solutions.
TWI works with automotive supply chains, providing a wide variety of services ranging from speculative research on new technologies, through development and implementation of these processes to the shop floor, to consultancy on repair and recycling of ageing structures.
Components range from power transmission through interior trim to electronics and sensors. Materials may be metallic or non-metallic, but in either case TWI's experience in the sector, and in related industry sectors, is in demand to assist manufacturers in finalising new designs and developing affordable and reliable production routes.
The twin pressures of cost reduction and weight reduction are forcing some manufacturers to use thinner or different materials, which in turn can be more prone to fabrication defects, including distortion. Other manufacturers are using a mixture of materials, providing challenges for joining dissimilar materials.
For example, some components now make use of thinner, high strength steel than was previously the case. TWI can assist with an analysis of structural integrity and optimum fabrication techniques for such components.
For other assemblies, the issue might be advice on the most appropriate adhesives to join dissimilar materials.
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