Smart, efficient reinforcement of automotive structures using carbon fibre tape (SMART-Tape)

Lead Participant: Cgtech Limited

Abstract

THE CHALLENGE:

To meet society's future requirements for mass transport and personal mobility, there is a need to develop technologies for producing structural components that are affordable, resource efficient and predictable. This will require a continued shift towards the use of lightweight materials and flexible, rapid manufacturing.

High-performance fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, including carbon fibre, are well-suited to these demands. The ability of FRPs to create low weight, high strength structures has been demonstrated in high-end automotive/motorsport and aerospace. However, two significant barriers to the widespread use of high-performance FRPs remain:

Cost: high-performance reinforcements such as carbon fibres are expensive, precluding their wide-spread use in mainstream automotive and other sectors such as rail, energy and construction.

Manufacturing: composite part manufacturing tends to be batch-based and relatively slow, constraining both production volumes and flexibility.

THE PROPOSED SOLUTION:

SMART-Tape will overcome these barriers by developing novel multi-material (hybrid) processes, using carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic tapes in conjunction with low-cost metallic and polymeric substrates, for volume automotive applications.

Carbon fibre tapes will be placed onto substrate components by robotic Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) in an intelligent, efficient manner, to improve strength and/or other properties. Therefore, the minimum amount of high-cost, high-performance carbon fibre material will be used to give the maximum effect.

SMART-Tape will develop and optimise the materials and processes, and demonstrate the technology on real-life automotive case study parts. Virtual representations will be made of the flexibility of the manufacturing technique to showcase its wide applicability. The project will provide vital evidence to automotive OEMs and Tier 1 organisations of the benefits of this multi-material approach, encouraging investment in the UK supply chain and putting it at the forefront of intelligent, efficient and flexible manufacturing.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Cgtech Limited £367,734 £ 257,414
 

Participant

Netcomposites Limited, Chesterfield £389,768 £ 272,838
Ncc Operations Limited, EMERSONS GREEN £299,922 £ 299,922

Publications

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