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The addition of features to improve safety and comfort has led to a significant increase in vehicle weight. In the context of increasing fuel costs and the onset of EU emissions regulations in 2015, becoming yet more stringent in 2020, weight reduction has become a key issue for automotive manufacturers.
Lightweight composite materials provide not only a reduction in weight over traditional materials such as steel and glass, but a significant opportunity to improve function and form. Their adoption by design engineers can however lead to significant challenges in car assembly. One of the key challenges is how to securely fasten such materials. Traditional fastening systems designed for sheet metal, such as rivets, bolts and clinched fixings are incompatible with lightweight composites, such as carbon fibre. Increasingly therefore, design engineers are turning to bonding and bonding fasteners as a solution.
bigHead, UK based manufacturer of bonding fasteners, has seen an extension of demand for its fastening solutions from supercars to premium and luxury cars. bighead’s customer Aston Martin is using bighead fasteners to attach the carbon fibre diffusers. The fasteners provide a secure mechanical screw fixing by being surface bonded with adhesive on the inside of the diffuser. From the outside they are completely discrete, with no rivets or drill holes and they are very simple to install. Due to the unique design of the perforated “Head”, the adhesive flows through the holes and hooks the fastener securely into position, achieving high load distribution and stability.
The bonding fasteners are simple to use, save time and reduce production cost. When integrated within car modules, sub-assembly manufacturers help their customers streamline final assembly.
bigHead can be embedded within the lightweight composite material or surface bonded. For applications requiring surface bonding with adhesive bigHead is working with adhesive partners to significantly reduce the cycle time. Current structural adhesives can take several minutes to cure which is not compatible with fast cycles times needed for high volume production. bigHead has identified solutions that can bring the bonding cycle time down to just seconds while also removing much of the imprecision and mess associated with wet structural adhesives.