SonoTool is a 24-month feasibility study part-funded by Innovate UK which started on 1st August 2018. The project lead is Far-UK Ltd, partnering with Loughborough University. The project is geared towards an integrated approach to enable lightweight vehicles, manufactured at low cost to achieve low emissions.
Lightweight materials are the next pit-stop in the challenge of reducing mass, and therefore reducing emissions and increasing fuel economy in the vehicle industry. However, for this to be viable it must be done economically. The SonoTool project aims to develop a breakthrough cost-effective continuous extrusion process for composite beam manufacturing, making use of sonification to modify material properties to suit the application.
Far-UK Ltd is responsible for the development of the innovative continuous extrusion process that will move away from the traditional high-waste composite manufacturing methods employed currently. It will offer flexibility in the dimensions of the beam extruded, allowing end-users to tailor the beams length, height and width to suit their needs. As such, the tailored and bespoke structural beams will require minimal tooling.
The main project outputs are the continuous low waste and affordable extrusion process. The sonification process developed by Loughborough University will allow the microstructure of the composite beam to be developed such that it will possess the right properties at the right place. This will be supported by a controlled way of reinforcing with fibres.
The underlying materials science has been demonstrated academically but requires some development in the area of transport. The SonoTool project is to take this and show that components can be manufactured, progressing the technology to the next stage of readiness.