Composites and joining technologies were some of the highlights in the automotive technical session at UTECH Europe 2018. Simon Robinson pulls some of the strands together.
Polyurethane matrix systems can make automotive parts lighter and as strong as those made from conventional materials, while being faster and easier to produce. Many raw materials suppliers and machinery companies have been working hard to develop new ways of replacing more traditional materials in automotive components.
Car makers are being forced away from polluting, high power, liquid fuel engines; in the future, zero-emission vehicles with heavy batteries and electrical motors will be important. The heavy weight of batteries will need to be offset by using lighter, stronger components in other parts of the car’s construction. As a result, composite materials will become increasingly important in the automotive industry.
Polyurethane matrix materials offer a range of useful properties, but they have to compete against more well-established technologies and materials. The key competing technologies are glass-fibre or carbon-fibre reinforced polyester, vinyl esters and epoxy resins.
Polyurethanes offer an important benefit over existing products such as epoxies: they have low viscosity. Additionally, polyurethane matrix materials can produce composites with in-use properties that are often as good as, if not better than, similar composites made with vinyl ester or…