New adhesive-free metal-composite bonding process

Ariel Hipercar5.jpg

Powdertech Surface Science Ltd has developed an innovative, time and labour-saving method for joining  metal to thermoplastic composites. Demonstrated within the Ariel Hipercar project, adhesive-free Powderbond™ bonds polypropylene glass fibre composite to aluminium in the vehicle’s monocoque chassis. The process is single stage, placing powder coated aluminium into a mold together with polypropylene and using the standard composite curing cycle. No adhesives are used at all.

Powdertech’s work was part of the SOLMAC project, funded by the Niche Vehicle Network as one its Production Readiness projects and supported by Innovate UK, OLEV and the APC.

Lean manufacturing

“We are delighted with the result”, said Simon Saunders, founder of Ariel Motor Company. “The process is clean and quick, and the bond strength achieved far surpasses current adhesive-based methods”. This is a lean manufacturing process with no surface preparation necessary for the polymer, no activation period and an energy saving short curing cycle. A typical chassis is made up of several hundred separate parts, welded and riveted together. By creating the aluminium-composite bonds within a mold, the number of parts in the Hipercar chassis is reduced by over seventy five percent.

Design flexibility

“Bonding metals and composites in a single stage gives tremendous freedom in design” said James Grant, Powdertech Director. “Complex and intricate shapes can be moulded into the composite structure whilst also incorporating high strength metal features.  Powderbond™ makes it possible, today, to use the best possible lightweight materials for the job, exactly where they are needed.”

We would be delighted to discuss the wide-ranging implications of adhesive-free Powderbond™ with anyone who is joining lightweight metals to composite materials. Please call on 01869 248218 or email us. 

More about Powderbond on our Projects Page.