As they work to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy, automakers are incorporating advanced lightweight materials to target vehicle weight reduction. In a statement on February 3, aerospace composites supplier Albany Engineered Composites (AEC, Rochester, NH, US) and automotive design experts at Ricardo plc (Shoreham-by-Sea, UK) announced that they have entered into a collaborative partnership to provide composite body, chassis and other structural components to the automotive industry. The relationship combines AEC’s experience designing and supplying composite parts noted for their impact and damage tolerance in the aerospace market with Ricardo’s automotive vehicle design capabilities.
“We’re excited to leverage our experience with 3D and other advanced composite technologies in the automotive industry. The ability to lightweight with durability has been a technology enabler for our aerospace customers, and we believe our partnership with Ricardo can deliver the same technology advances to automotive customers,” says Brian Coffenberry, vice president of business development for research & technology at AEC.
Under the terms the agreement, Ricardo and Albany Engineered Composites will jointly explore the use of AEC technologies like 3D woven composites for providing the stiffness, strength, durability and energy absorption necessary to lightweight applications such as crash structures. Often these structures are made of metal and are difficult to replace with lighter materials while maintaining safety standards. The synergies available from the AEC-Ricardo collaboration will be particularly attractive to automotive manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers that want to reduce body and chassis mass, while also maintaining vehicle structural and safety performance.
“The agreement announced today is excellent news for our global automotive customers,” says Ricardo plc chief operating officer Mark Garrett. “As industry experts forecast significant reductions in the cost of carbon composites, along with continuous improvements in related manufacturing cycle times, this becomes an attractive solution for the structural components of future global car platforms. The combination of Ricardo’s automotive engineering capabilities and Albany Engineered Composites' technology, design and manufacturing capabilities should provide a unique opportunity to speed the implementation of advanced light-weighting solutions for our customers.”