Traditionally, mass-produced cars were made largely by the resistance spot welding of thin mild steel sheet, with some arc welding of chassis components; larger vehicles used more arc welding. These processes remain important, and TWI is well equipped to work with them. Indeed, with the use of zinc coating, high-strength alloy steels and hydroformed components, these established joining technologies still require attention.
However, the automotive world has changed, notably in the need to reduce vehicle mass. TWI, helped by its ability to cross-fertilise ideas from other industries, can offer expertise in:
- Alternative materials: aluminium, magnesium, polymers, composites, high-strength steel
- New joining methods: point joining (e.g. self-piercing rivets, clinching), laser- friction- and electron-beam welding, adhesive bonding
- Joint design for recycling
- Dissimilar materials joining
- Supply chain configuration
Modern automotive powertrain design is dominated by the need to reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2
) output from vehicles; therefore lower fuel consumption is a primary aim. This is being addressed via improved combustion efficiency, mass reduction and the use of electric and hybrid
Electric and electronics systems must, above all, be reliable and, in the face of new legislation, recyclable. TWI has expertise to support these aims including:
- Fabrication routes for battery and fuel cell systems
- Sealing issues with power components
- High-speed, reliable joining technology for high-current duty connectors
- Lightweighting (for example, higher strength thinner sections often require new approaches to joining and distortion control)
- Best practice joining technologies for high-strength steel, aluminium, magnesium, composites and plastics including dissimilar combinations
- Recycling issues with power components
- Hydrogen containment materials, weldability, testing, non-destructive testing (NDT).
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