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HiLiTe

High volume Lightweight Technologies for vehicle structures (HiLiTe)

The aim of this project was to develop a novel end-to-end process for the manufacture of high volume and low-cost lightweight structural components for the automotive industry.

This £3M three-year collaborative research project was part-funded by the Innovate UK, with Far-UK Ltd as the lead partner, alongside Expert Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (Expert AMT), the National Composites Centre (NCC), Tata Motors European Technical Centre plc (TMETC) and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG).

What was achieved in the project:

  • 50% weight reduction on existing steel component,
  • 56% reduction in material costs compared to an existing composite,
  • Takt time of 2 minutes (90 seconds on moulding process),
  • Tested after simulating e-coat process at 200 °C,
  • Complete manufacturing process developed,

Original aims of the project:

  • 30% weight reduction on an existing steel component,
  • 40% reduction in costs compared to existing composites,
  • Takt time of 2 minutes,
  • High-temperature capability to enable integration with existing paint shop processes,
  • To develop a complete end-to-end process for manufacturing high-volume components for the automotive industry,

The project developed a polymer composite material based on an epoxy resin system and long discontinuous carbon fibres offering the capability to run a near net-shape manufacturing process.

The project also provided additional benefits:

  • Lower use phase emissions achieved by the 50% weight reduction for an equivalent component,
  • High-temperature capability to enable integration with existing paint shop processes, together with in use operation,
  • Technology can be implemented on existing vehicle manufacturing techniques and novel vehicle architectures including hybrid and electric vehicles,
  • Materials and processing technologies anchored in the UK,
  • Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of components and processing routes,
  • End-to-end cost analysis of finished parts and vehicle integration,

The HiLiTe project helps the development of European automotive manufacturing towards lower weight vehicles, which in turn will help reduce transport greenhouse gas emissions.

As the lead partner, Far-UK Ltd oversaw the whole project but in particular its input was in the following areas:

  • Material development,
  • Design,
  • Testing.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The consortium would like to thank Innovate UK for support during the project.

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – it is the UK’s innovation agency, accelerating economic growth. To take a new idea to market is a challenge, it funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information, visit the website at www.innovateuk.org.

As the UK’s innovation agency, one of the main roles of Innovate UK is to achieve business and economic growth for the UK. One way the organisation supports this is through funding innovative Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) projects. Collaborative research and development (R&D) encourages businesses and researchers to work together on innovative projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology – from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge, contributing to business and economic growth. Find out more about the CR&D programme here: https://www.innovateuk.org/-/collaborative-r-d.