Quickstep Holdings has received results from research work on automotive composite crash structures which may deliver cost and safety benefits.
Composite parts are currently used extensively in the manufacture of racing cars and high performance cars to deliver improved strength-to-weight ratios and increased fuel efficiency. However the application of composite technology in the broader automotive industry has been limited due to key barriers, namely the increased cost of manufacturing; and the absence of reliable computer modelling showing how composite automotive components react in crash situations.
Dr Bronwyn Fox, who heads the team of composites researchers at VCAMM and an integral member of the Quickstep Technology Advisory Board, said initial research results have indicated the Quickstep Process may deliver a viable solution to both barriers to entry.
“Our research has involved the manufacture of composite ‘tubes’ which are designed to simulate standard steel chassis rails in a vehicle,” she said. “We then crash test these tubes to determine how they react in a crash scenario and the results so far have proved extremely positive – confirming that manufacturing automotive parts using the Quickstep Process has strong potential.”
Initial tests have shown that carbon fibre parts manufactured using the Quickstep Process absorb crash energy at a rate of up to 86 kilojoules per kilogram. This compares to around 60kJ/kg for aluminium and around 45kJ/kg for steel.
“The more energy that can be absorbed by a vehicle in a crash, the less that is transferred to the vehicle’s occupants, making passengers safer,” Dr Fox commented.
“In addition, we have been able to cure a crash tube using the Quickstep Process in seven minutes, which compares favourably with other composites manufacturing techniques and is within the acceptable limits for the automotive industry who manufacture in large volumes,” Dr Fox continued.
Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said if ongoing research confirms VCAMM’s initial test results, it would represent a significant opportunity for the Company.
“The potential for using composite tubes manufactured using the Quickstep Process could offer a new stream of opportunities from luxury and performance car manufacturers,” he said.
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