Monday, 9 February 2015

Ricardo moves into vehicle composites

Ricardo plc has teamed with US aerospace composite supplier Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) to provide composite body, chassis and other structural components to the automotive industry.

Automakers are incorporating a variety of new and advanced materials to reduce the weight of vehicle structures and components as they work to reduce carbon emissions and improve passenger safety. 

Ricardo, of Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK, has clearly spotted a business opportunity and teamed with an aerospace specialist in the field.

Ricardo, through its work with McLaren and other clients, has seen the growth of carbon fibres and other composite materials in specialist vehicles, and clearly applications could spread far wider than sports cars.

Albany Engineered Composites (AEC), of Airport Drive, Rochester, New Hampshire in the US, has demonstrated expertise in the state-of-the-art design and manufacturing of composite parts noted for their impact and damage tolerance in the aerospace market.

And as a world leader in passenger car and commercial vehicle design with car manufacturers and their suppliers, Ricardo will collaborate with AEC to grow the use of proven advanced aerospace composites within the global automotive industry.

“We’re excited to leverage our experience with 3D and other advanced composite technologies in the automotive industry.  The ability to lightweight with durability has been a technology enabler for our aerospace customers, and we believe our partnership with Ricardo can deliver the same technology advances to automotive customers,” noted Brian Coffenberry, vice president of business development for research & technology at AEC.

Under the terms the agreement, Ricardo and AEC will jointly explore the use of AEC’s technologies, including 3D composites, to providing the stiffness, strength, durability and energy absorption necessary to lightweight applications such as crash structures. 

Often these structures are made of steel or aluminium and are difficult to replace with a lighter weight materials while maintaining performance requirements. 

The synergies available from the AEC-Ricardo collaboration will be particularly attractive to automotive manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers that want to reduce body and chassis mass, while also maintaining vehicle structural and safety performance.

“The agreement announced today is excellent news for our global automotive customers as we work to find further weight reductions in vehicles to meet future CO2 reductions,” claimed Ricardo plc chief operating officer Mark Garrett.

“As industry experts forecast significant reductions in the cost of carbon composites, along with continuous improvements in related manufacturing cycle times, this becomes an attractive solution for the structural components of future global car platforms.  The combination of Ricardo’s automotive engineering capabilities and Albany Engineered Composites technology, design and manufacturing capabilities should provide a unique opportunity to speed the implementation of advanced light-weighting solutions for our customers,” he added.

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