UK project on the road to lightweighting carbon fibre parts for auto industry


UK’s Surface Generation, a provider of advanced carbon fibre processing technologies, has started work on an 18-month R&D project to produce affordable lightweight carbon fibre components for the automotive industry.

Backed by Innovate UK (an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy), Surface Generation is working with project partners to create enhanced automotive components, exploiting its patented Production to Functional Specification (PtFS) production process to overmould long-fibre reinforced carbon composites with short-fibre thermoplastics. Surface Generation will develop manufacturing solutions for the production of coupons, sub-element components and demonstrator articles, designed to improve the performance of automotive.

Part of the Thermoplastic Overmoulding for Structural Composite Automotive Applications (TOSCAA) project, the consortium is led by SGL Carbon Fibers and includes Jaguar Land Rover, Engenuity, LMAT, Nifco, The University of Nottingham and AMRC at the University of Sheffield and has attracted more than £2 million in UK Government funding for initiatives focused on making cars lighter and more fuel efficient.

The manufacturing techniques developed by Surface Generation rely on its PtFS process, which uses active thermal management technologies incorporated in mould faces to adjust heating and cooling levels for each mould area and process stage in real-time.

The company says PtFS is already being used by global automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics manufacturers to combine, compact, process and meld plastic, glass and composite materials more efficiently and with greater precision than is possible using traditional injection and compression moulding processes. It will be further developed over the course of the project.

Ben Halford, Chief Executive at Surface Generation, comments: “The benefits of lightweight carbon fibre materials have been proven in Formula 1 and high-end supercars but are often uneconomic outside niche user cases. Surface Generation’s PtFS technology will extend the capability of thermoplastic overmoulding, thereby delivering the functional benefits of carbon composites to a new class of cost sensitive automotive components.”

Surface Generation is a privately-owned high technology and manufacturing company headquartered in the UK and with facilities in North America and Asia. Its patented PtFS technology enables manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics sectors to work with composite materials, saving costs, energy and producing significantly lighter weight products.


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