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next generation non-destructive evaluation systems for carbon reinforced polymers

The Innovate UK-funded TACOMA Project is working to develop next generation non-destructive evaluation (NDE) systems for carbon reinforced polymers (CFRPs) in the automotive industry.

As environmental issues promote the expansion of electric vehicle development in the automotive industry, there is a need to develop lighter materials solutions to reduce the weight of vehicles. Reduced weight increases both fuel efficiency and the battery range of electric vehicles, with each 100kg of weight saved reducing CO2 emissions by 20g/km.

CFRPs are the ideal solution to this weight reduction challenge, being one of the lightest high-strength materials in the world. However, there has been a historical problem with the cost of these materials as well as the labour intensive nature of manufacturing with CFRPs.

These challenges prevented high-volume use of CFRPs in the automotive industry, but as costs for automotive grade carbon fibre have dropped from £65 per kg  ($35 per pound) to around £20 per kg ($12 per pound), there is a renewed growth in CFRP usage across the global automotive market. This increase is expected to equal a CAGR of 7.9% between 2018 and 2023.

With this increasing use, there is a need for faster and more efficient inspection of CFRP parts. NDE methods will be vital to achieving this and ensuring the integrity of any parts built using CFRPs, both in the manufacturing and after-market environments. However, no single NDE technique is currently ideally suited for quantitative measurement of all the various defect types.

The TACOMA project will deliver the next generation NDE systems for the CFRP automotive market, using advanced patented X-ray tomography technology, first developed for use in the medical sector. The patented “direct conversion” X-ray technology has also been demonstrated in high-speed applications in the food inspection sector. The TACOMA project will be used to adapt and further develop the technology for automotive parts and CFRP defects. 

Challenges in CFRP inspection? Get involved.

We are now looking for industrial partners from the quality services or manufacturing industries interested in improvement in speed, image quality and detection capabilities in the inspection of CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) materials.

The team behind the ground-breaking TACOMA project are interested in your input to help steer productisation requirements. If you have a role in high performance industrial CFRP inspection, and want to impact a new NDE solution, get in touch.

The TACOMA project will deliver a new level of inspection for high performance automotive production lines where the changing nature of the materials, components and supply chains are generating major new challenges in quality inspection and testing. CFRP usage is set to grow at a CAGR of 7.9%. In an environment which demands sleek reliability in a complex mix of skilled workforce, automation and robotics, parts inspection needs to be fast, efficient, accurate and reliable.

Get involved.