Cidaut together with the partners of Avangard European project is trying to get the answer to this challenging question. One of the objectives of the project is to design an electric vehicle assembly line, with 90% cost reduction relative to a standard carmaker assembly line, to produce modular four wheels electric vehicles and e-bikes.
In order to obtain the ambitious target, IFEVS, as vehicle designer, has adopted a modular solution based on high strength steel tubular design, with highly automated 3D laser cutting and bending processes that have been properly though to avoid mistakes during assembly phase. The manufacturing process also implies the use of innovative 3D printing solutions for both metallic and plastic parts, and also the purchasing and assembly process is controlled by block-chain and cybersecurity solutions to warranty the low cost and efficiency of the project.
Cidaut’s contribution to the project is related to the security of the occupants and also of the vulnerable road users. In the case of the occupant and smart front end has been designed to maximize the energy absorbed and also the passenger spaces has been reinforced to avoid any significant deformation and finally an specific restraint system has been developed adopted to the particularities of these vehicles. In the case of the vulnerable road users’ protection, active and passive measures have been adopted. In the case of the passive solutions the front of the vehicle has been analysed to create “soft” surfaces. In the case of the active, artificial intelligent solutions are being applied to identify vulnerable road users and advice the driver or brake automatically.
Avangard project has completed two out of three years and it is expected that the final answer to the initial question will be yes.
The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union (EU) project Avangard (GA #869986)
The Bracketweld project, led by the CIDAUT and granted by the clean sky programme JTI-CS2-2014-CFP01-LPA-02-03 GAP, number 686611, presented his final results on 28th frebuary 2019.
The general objective of the BRACKETWELD project has been to develop an innovative technology for the rapid assembly of thermoplastic supports so that there is an improvement in the integration of these materials, in particular supports of thermoplastics material as PEI, with the thermosetting composite components currently used in aircraft structures. It also seeks to be a greener, efficient and cost-effective solution than the current ones.
This innovative assembly technology is based on the idea of using the fast and efficient ultrasonic welding technology to assemble thermoplastic brackets to thermosetting composite structural components.
As thermosetting materials cannot be welded, a thermoplastic surface media has to be strongly attached to the thermosetting composite structure by a co-curing process, being this surface media used as an anchor interface for the latterly welding of the thermoplastic brackets by any fusion bonding technique, and especially by the ultrasonic welding.
The key challenge for the development of this innovative technology will be the development of the appropriate surface media that must be compatible with the typical thermoplastic materials used for the injection of brackets (PA, PEEK, PEI,..) while at the same time achieving a very high adhesion strength to the thermosetting composite laminate during the curing of the structural components.
With the objetive to achieve a succesful results, three great phases was developement:
In the first, an innovative test method was developed combining different mechanical and lab tests to analyze the performance of the co-cured welded joints. This test method was used to assess the compatibility and the behaviour of a large series of commericial references of surface medias, and also of in-house developed formulations for surface media.
The second was focused on the validation of the conclusions obtained in the first part of the project . It was necessary implied a redefintion of the welding procedure and parameters. New samples were welded to validate the performance of the welding tool and ensure that the performance of the welded joints was not affected by this change.
And finally,in the third phase, the curved panels were produced, after the tooling design and manufacture, the chosen surface medias were co-cured and welders were used to manufacture a new series of curved panels. These welded joints were analyzed under different condtions (room temperature and hot and wet) and load cases (axial and transversal) comparing the performances of the joints versus those of the previous stage and the different load cases and situations. This analysis has resulted in a series of recommendations for the future market uptake of the project technologies.
The success in the development of the activities proposed in the BRACKETWELD contributes to the development of the rapid assembly process for the integration of brackets and fittings into structural thermosetting composite components leading to significant advantages related to the reduction in weight (associated to the change from metal to thermoplastic brackets), assembly costs and energy reductions compared to the current adhesive bonding methods, since is that there is no need for surface preparation, adhesives, and curing time nor expensive quality control procedures. To illustrate the magnitude of the benefits achieved by the development of this rapid assembly technology, it has to be considered the number of ten thousand brackets used today in the A350-XWB, and this allow us to contributed to the achievement the innovative assembly technology through the evaluation of the performance of the assembly itself in accordance with the specifications of typical aeronautical requirements used in the joined/bonded supports.
Much knowledge has been generated during the project that will enable the technology update in the future, though higher TRL levels call for larger experimental campaigns, and more robust manual welding tool design. This may be exploited not only for the specific application of System-Structure integration in aviation, but also for the general development of the welding capability for thermosetting composites that may be useful in other applications and sectors.
For instance, the laboratory characterization methodologies and the procedures for the elaboration of suitable surface media that have been developed in the project for the specific application of ultrasonic welding of PEI brackets will be also useful for:
- the rapid assembly of thermosetting composite components with suitable surface medias using the welding techniques already industrialized for thermoplastic composites like resistance or induction welding,
- the assembly of thermosetting composites with suitable surface medias to thermoplastic components or thermoplastic composite components,
- the capability to manufacture hybrid components (thermoset composite-thermoplastic) by over-moulding a thermoset composite component having a suitable surface media with a thermoplastic material by injection moulding for an added functionality.
These potential new capabilities for thermosetting composite components will have a positive impact for the reduction of current assembly times and costs, increasing the number of applications of composite lightweight materials in Transport Sectors for reducing vehicle weights, fuel consumptions and emissions. For instance, in the Automotive Sector, where the need for lightweight materials is increasing and the use of composite materials will grow. The development of rapid and reliable joining technologies for thermosetting composite components may boost the current developments related to the use of carbon fibre composites in vehicle structures, since the assembly and repair of these structures is nowadays a handicap compared to the traditionally used steel and aluminium structures.
More information https://www.cidaut.es/bracketweld-project/about/
Brackets are small elements used as local links between aircraft structure, systems and cabin. Nowadays, most of the components of the structure are made of polymer composites, the majority of them being formed of carbon fibres reinforced thermosetting matrices. The state-of-the-art techniques for joining brackets or other small functional elements to these composite structural components are based on mechanical fastening and adhesive bonding. These joining processes are time consuming, and add significant labour and tooling costs to the assembly process, even for the attachment of such small components. Moreover, the adhesion strength achieved is often limited requiring dedicated surface treatments to be applied. An additional handicap for a strong adhesive bonding happens when the composite component is painted.
The Bracketweld project aims at contributing to the green and cost-efficient integration of systems and aircraft structures by the development of an innovative technology for the rapid assembly of thermoplastic brackets to thermosetting composite components currently used in aircraft structures. This has been done using the fast and efficient ultrasonic welding technology to assemble thermoplastic brackets to thermosetting composite structural components. As thermosetting materials cannot be welded, a thermoplastic surface media will be strongly attached to the thermosetting composite structure by a co-curing process, being this surface media used as an anchor interface for the latterly welding of the thermoplastic brackets by any fusion bonding technique, and especially by the ultrasonic welding.
The first two years of the Bracketweld project have been focused on the development of an innovative Test Method for the evaluation of different materials compatibility. The proposed welded joint combines a thermoset material with a film and a thermoplastic bracket, while the latter do not necessarily need to be the same material (because of cost or processability issues). This methodology is then the basis of the film quick down material selection ensuring a good level of adhesion with this welding method. This methodology was developed in pararell with the investigation, manufacturing and evaluation of the most appropriate surface media for the specific case under study in this project, including the formulation and development of custom surface medias at CIDAUT. Different material combinations were assessed with the Test Method.
The final year of this project has been devoted to the validation of the developed concepts. Having defined a robust and reliable test method, and chosen a film for the project use case, the validation of the methodology has been upscaled to a single curvature panel, from a machine assisted welding to a manual welding operation, and from room temperature and axial testing conditions to shear and hot/wet environments.
The CHEMPLAST exhibition took place last November at Madrid, Spain. This was a twofold event, on the one hand challenges and innovations for the chemical industry, and on the other hand, the plastics industry was the focus of the attention. Cidaut had a stand at the fair and contributed actively with several presentations of the material development and processing technologies team.
Left to right: Karina Núñez, head of material development, with Juan Carlos Merino, director of Cidaut, and Maria Teresa Fernández, vice-director of Cidaut.
Three different presentations were held: Manuel Herrero, presented his work on bio polyamides and their modification with nano additives, highlighting that new materials with improved performance and reduced weight can be developed for niche applications.
Blanca Araujo focused her presentation on the challenges and new innovations in thermoplastic structural composites. There is a new generation of composite materials aiming at developing solutions for faster and more efficient manufacturing technologies, combined with improved integration through the research of joining technologies, and completed with improved performance and material functionality. In this sense, Mr. Thierry Renault, from faurecia, presented an inspiring session also on the Chemplast conference in which he reflected on the opportunities, applications and way ahead for these kinds of materials.
Blanca Araujo at the Advanced Composites conference session.
Julia Guerrero focused her presentation on pultrusion, and the opportunities that this technology may provide in the future to recycle different plastic fractions that can be reformulated to provide new market alternatives with a range of different performances depending on the reinforcements used.
Julia Guerrero at the beginning of her presentation
Besides, CIDAUT also took part moderating sessions, with Karina Núñez moderating the session of “obtaining plastic materials from renewable sources, technologies, economic aspects and new markets” in which a very interesting debate was held on the different views about the recycling plastic sector and the role bioplastics should play in it. Blanca Araujo moderated the session titled “New polymers in high technology industries”, and Esteban Cañibano moderated the session “CAD CAE tools and new design optimization”.
Finally, our director, Juan Carlos Merino delivered a presentation at the Labtech Innovation Theatre of the event, reflecting on the different perceptions of the plastics and recycling across industry sectors, highlighting the role of technology centres in fostering new innovation.
ChemPlastExpo, organized by Nebext in collaboration with Ainia Centro Tecnológico, is a 3-day Congres that will take place in Madrid during the 6-8th November 2018.
CHEMPLAST is a space to discover the latest emerging technologies and the most innovative solutions for the industry 4.0 in chemical and plastics sectors, a mandatory meeting for any professional who wants to boost their factory to the maximum level of competitiveness and innovation. CIDAUT will be one of the exhibitors at CHEMPLAST, at our stand you will be able to meet our material development experts, discuss circular economy highlights, composite developments and know more about our latest innovation projects and prototypes. Meet us there and let’s discuss new collaboration opportunities!
CIDAUT will also participate actively at the European Congress of Plastics Engineering. Our colleagues Karina Núñez will be presenting “Thermoplastic pultrusion as promising recycling technology”; Manuel Herrero will be presenting his research in “bio based polyamides for industrial applications”; and Blanca Araujo will present “Opportunities and challenges for structural thermoplastic composites”. Blanca will also moderate one of the parallel sessions: “Plastic innovations applied to the automotive and aeronautics industries”.
Feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com to arrange meetings with our experts, and do not hesitate to visit our stand!