Study examines NDT for high volume automotive composites

| Environmental Testing

Producing lightweight cars with low emissions is creating challenges in testing new materials in high volume production environments.

With tighter limits on vehicle CO2 emissions due to be phased in from 2020, a new working group aims to help the automotive industry meet the challenge of inspecting lightweight vehicles.

The group is being launched by Professor Robert Smith, the former president of the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT), who aims to bring together experts from all parts of the industry, including designers, manufacturers, materials experts, regulators, insurers and NDT professionals, to put a ‘road map’ in place. It follows a recent BINDT event at The Manufacturing Technology Centre, Coventry, where leading figures from the industry discussed the challenges.

The new rules will limit CO2 emissions to around 100 g/km. Professor Smith believes this cap will result in the use of composites, currently limited to high-performance cars and aircraft, being extended into high-volume manufacturing.

“NDT will play a crucial role in helping the automotive sector overcome the challenges of lightweight vehicles by optimising manufacturing cycle times,” he says. “We have to ramp up the skills level in composites inspection and have just three to five years to put everything in place, otherwise there will be lots of cars that only a few people know how to inspect or repair.”

The challenge of inspecting composite vehicles will also be a key theme at Materials Testing 2017 – the world’s most comprehensive exhibition of NDT, condition monitoring and diagnostic technologies – which will take place from 5-7 September at The International Centre, Telford. The event, which is organised by BINDT, is free to attend for registered visitors.

Professor Smith believes the challenge of meeting the emissions limits will put the automotive sector ahead of aerospace for composite inspection. He adds: “While the automotive industry is currently learning from aerospace in terms of testing composites, it is going to have to push ahead with techniques for affordable manufacturing. I suspect that in five to ten years’ time, aerospace will be learning from the automotive industry.”

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