AMRC receives funding to advance automotive composites

The AMRC Composite Centre has formed part of a UK-wide research consortium tasked with developing innovative new manufacturing technologies and processes for automotive composites.

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The University of Sheffield (Sheffield, UK) Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), which is co-founded by Boeing (Chicago), has received £360,000 ($453,000) in funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to investigate the way composite material is developed for use in automotive components.

The consortium is made up of seven other companies and research organizations such as Jaguar Land Rover, SGL Carbon Fibres Ltd, the University of Nottingham and Nifco UK Ltd, who together, will focus on a project to create strong lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures to help vehicles deliver lower emissions.

“Our role within the research project is to look at how the preformed blanks can be made cheaper, faster and stronger, using less material to produce lightweight composite automotive assemblies,” says AMRC Composite Centre Partnership Lead Hannah Tew.

Composites Technical Lead Hassan El-Dessouky says the AMRC Composite Centre will investigate the use of creating the CRFP material using 3D weaving of commingled fibers and co-weaving of carbon and thermoplastic fibers, instead of the traditional 2D weaving.

“The 3D weaving will provide different material properties for the preformed blanks than traditional 2D technology, improving performance and making it cheaper and quicker to produce. It is hoped we prove that less material will be needed making 3D woven CRFP more cost-effective.”

Research will also be carried out to see if the way the CRFP fibers are orientated during weaving affects the production and quality of the composite material, allowing the team to improve component geometry and ‘lightweight’ the composite material more than standard composites.

“We hope the research will allow us to prove the technology can work for many other vehicle parts, helping the proliferation and use of composite materials in the automotive sector. This will contribute to increasing cost efficiencies and vehicles that are lighter and produce fewer emissions,” Tew says.