KTP funding for high-volume automotive composites fastener integration

BigHead Bonding Fasteners has been awarded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funding with Cranfield University that it says will strengthen and expand its capabilities for fastening solutions related to the emerging demand in high-volume manufacture of lightweight composite components for the automotive industry.

The InnovateUK part-funded Government scheme is a three-way partnership that includes the appointment of an engineering graduate to implement project work as a KTP Associate within bigHead, with close support from Cranfield’s Composites Centre. The Centre is a core partner in the strategic EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp) and the AMSCI funded Lightweighting Excellence (LX) programme. BigHead are interested to hear from potential undergraduate and post-graduate candidates in mechanical engineering, materials science or design engineering related subjects looking for challenging career opportunities in this exciting and emerging area of industry.

With significant investment by automotive OEMs and Tiers for the adoption of lightweight materials at the high-end sector of the industry, and with the potential to extend lightweighting towards mass-market vehicle volumes, the need for rapid and efficient fastener integration is growing.

BigHead has developed assembly techniques to precision-fix bigHeads to CFRP panels and other types of high volume composite material components for the automotive industry, using specialist dry adhesives which have the potential to be scaled from prototyping and small scale production to fully automated, volume production.

Matthew Stevens, bigHead’s managing director, said: “As vehicle lightweighting continues to redefine the composites landscape, bigHead’s vision is to lead the industry by developing integrated fastening solutions in close cooperation with our customers through a collaborative ‘engineer-to-engineer’ process. With Cranfield’s significant expertise in composites/ joining and its strong network of contacts in industry and research we see the KTP delivering significant results for our company.”

The knowledge and solutions provided to bighead and Cranfield by the KTP are expected to assist automotive manufacturers looking to maximise production throughput when integrating fastening components into their composite panels and components, especially carbon composite materials. It will also aim to provide the industry with standardised solutions, improved guidelines and test procedures related to this area.