Monday, September 4, 2017

News: AMRC creating composite components for carmakers

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McLaren, Aston Martin and now Bentley - three premium car manufacturers that are harnessing the manufacturing expertise in the Sheffield city region to develop lightweight and composite components.

As part of a multimillion pound research project, The Composite Centre at The AMRC is installing a unique, high pressure press to help luxury car manufacturer Bentley reduce weight and greenhouse gas emissions.

Manufacturers are working on weight reduction to ensure compliance with stricter emissions standards. Many UK-based automotive OEMs have expressed interest to source a higher percentage of their composite components from within the UK. The Lightweighting Excellence (LX) Programme addresses these desires by consolidating all elements of the supply chain to produce demonstrator components to showcase UK capability.

With £7.15m of joint funding from the Government's Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative and industry, the programme is looking to redefine the process in creating "preforms" of composite material in order to capitalise on weight-savings offered by carbon fibre reinforced plastic.

The AMRC will turn the optimised preforms of composite material into finished components in a new composite press. The press is currently being installed adjacent to the AMRC's Factory 2050 facility on Sheffield Business Park, with production set to begin in 2017.

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As part of the LX programme, the press will be completed by the development of an automated robotic cell by the AMRC and Expert Tooling & Automation. The cell will be used alongside the press for further industrial research into carbon fibre weaving and robotic placement technology used to make the preforms of composite material.

Clara Frias, ‎technical lead (composites) at The AMRC, said: "This will be a unique facility that will improve our capabilities and also benefit the UK.

"The technology will allow us to collect data to optimise the most appropriate preforming technologies, scaling them up for industrial use and allowing programme partners to share benchmarking data with the automotive sector and wider industries."

Bentley has offered as a use-case, the challenge of replacing a structural Door-Inner sub-assembly, currently made of numerous metallic parts, with a simplified carbon composite assembly.

Supercar manufacturer McLaren is reshoring UK production​ at a new purpose-built factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and is working on a two-year research and development programme with the University of Sheffield on how best to manufacture its carbon fibre chassis.

MetLase, the AMP-based joint venture between Rolls-Royce and the Unipart Group, helped to develop a way of manufacturing very lightweight exhausts for high end cars made by Aston Martin.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC


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