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Development of natural composite materials and product design for the transport industry

Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Reference Number: TOUK20190830001
Publication Date: 30 August 2019

Summary

A small UK consultancy has extensive know-how in replacing moulded vehicle parts with natural fibre composites. Its associates supply to well-known car brands but the whole field is still emergent so that the company offers many new products in the automotive, rail, aviation fields under commercial agreements with technical assistance.

Description

There is a growing need in the transport industry for using various natural materials in cars, rail coaches and aeroplanes. Said materials are not just sustainable, they often provide better value for money.
The development of natural composites is not always straightforward and the learning curve can be long.
A small UK company has 15 years of experience in the development of natural products and materials for the automotive, rail and aerospace industries, from initial concept through to production ready solutions. Before that, they spent 20 years in the automotive product development business. With the natural composites and product design, they have introduced low cost tooling and materials in such a way that the lead times are short.
Current automotive applications and product development:
- Interior door trim, instrument panel, trunk trim, load floors, headlining, please see the Pictures.
- Used in Mercedes, Smart, Opel, Kia, Volvo, Nissan, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover.
The company has designed products in other sectors like furniture or suitcases, and will welcome enquiries from most sectors.
The company is working closely with the supply chain. Its associates have an annual production of 11,400 tons of composite materials and increasing each year. The production sites are on several continents.
The UK company is looking forward to working with Tier 1 and 2 suppliers wanting to offer an alternative to current technologies in the automotive, rail and aerospace sector. The innovation may cover:
- OEM looking for a sustainable advantage
- Light weighting of vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions or extend electric vehicle range
- End of life advantage on thermoplastic interior trims. The waste material can be shredded and introduced back into the new material - current directive is 95% recovered and 85% recycled by weight

The type of cooperation would be commercial agreement with technical assistance. The technical assistance will start with advising on various materials and designs, what will meet the industry requirements and what may run into difficulties. When the design is known, suitable materials and composites will be selected. Further assistance will include prototyping the designs that can be validated jointly. The company can then offer supply of materials or parts.
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Advantages and Innovations

The company’s main innovation is the introduction of low cost tooling and materials that allow for short lead times.
The advantages with the materials used include:
- Lightweight alternative to current technologies;
- Easy and safe to handle and 3D mould in a non-woven format;
- Recyclable thermoplastics and biodegradeable Poly Lactic Acid (PLA);
- Bioresin uses 82% less non-renewable embodied energy compared to current technology;
- Natural fibres are superior for resin retention in a PrePreg;
- Very low fire smoke and toxicity (FST) results for aerospace and rail grade material;
- Similar performance to a glass reinforcement fibre.

Stage Of Development

Already on the market

Requested partner

Type of partner sought: industry
Specific activity of partner sought: Tier 1 and 2 suppliers of parts into automotive, rail and aerospace sectors.
Role of partner sought: the partners will work with the UK company to specify alternative products to existing ones, or new products. With the help of associates, the UK company can cover the whole chain from design to small volume production or supply of tooling and prepregs.

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