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A method for joining metal to thermoplastic composites developed by Powdertech Surface Science has been employed in the Ariel Hipercar project to bond glass fibre polypropylene to aluminium for the vehicle’s monocoque chassis.
The process, called Powderbond, is single-stage, placing powder-coated aluminium into a mould together with polypropylene and using the standard composite curing cycle.
Powdertech’s work was part of the SOLMAC project, funded by the Niche Vehicle Network as one its Production Readiness projects and supported by Innovate UK, OLEV and the APC.
“We are delighted with the result,” says Simon Saunders, Founder of Ariel Motor Company. “The process is clean and quick, and the bond strength achieved far surpasses current adhesive-based methods.”
Powdertech explains that this is a lean manufacturing process with no surface preparation necessary for the polymer, no activation period and an energy-saving short curing cycle. A typical chassis is made up of several hundred separate parts, welded and riveted together. By creating the aluminium-composite bonds within a mould, the number of parts in the Hipercar chassis is reduced by over 75%.
“Bonding metals and thermoplastics in a single stage gives tremendous freedom in design,” notes James Grant, Powdertech Director. “Complex and intricate shapes can be moulded into the composite structure whilst also incorporating high strength metal features. Powderbond makes it possible, today, to use the best possible lightweight materials for the job, exactly where they are needed.”
Image provided by Powdertech
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