Last month’s Alvant promoted the advantages of Aluminium Matrix Composites at Farnborough Air Show.
Alvant, (previously Composite Metal Technology or CMT) is a recently launched British advanced materials technology business, created to respond to the challenges of lower emissions and reduced weight faced by companies in transport and defence, high-end consumer goods, industrial products and healthcare.
Aluminium Matrix Composites are an advanced class of composite materials suitable for applications where conventional metals are expected to approach or exceed their performance limits. In comparison to unreinforced metals, AMCs have many advantages, such as greater strength, higher stiffness, lower weight, superior wear resistance, and lower co-efficients of thermal and electrical conductivity.
Alvant claim AMCs benefit from the strength and stiffness of steel, but at less than half the weight, meaning highly loaded components made from traditional metals, such as steel, titanium and aluminium can be replaced by lightweight, low inertia parts without any increase in package size.
Richard Thompson, commercial director at Alvant said: “There is now increasing commercial demand for strong but lightweight components in many forms of transportation, such as aerospace, automotive, marine, as well as consumer goods; with manufacturers looking for ways to increase product capabilities and performance while simultaneously meeting ambitious goals for fuel efficiency and sustainability.
“AMCs also have higher transverse strength and stiffness, superior damage tolerance, and a superior thermal operating range than the previously preferred carbon composite material, meaning AMCs can be used to engineer more durable lightweight components for harsh environments.”
Avant’s new project in partnership with Innovate UK and Safran Landing Systems, will be to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. The project will look at how AMCs can challenge traditional materials in the design and manufacture of landing gear assemblies.
“The aerospace industry currently faces the challenge of finding suitable materials that will reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency, whilst maintaining reliability and lowering whole-life ownership costs. AMCs can offer reductions in weight of 30 per cent compared to legacy materials, while meeting legislative demands,” Thompson continued.
Alvant has also been engaged in a £1.6m, 30-month R&D project with Ford Motor Company since October 2017. The project aims to develop a new casting method for the manufacture of hybrid-AMC components for high-performance production cars. For this project Alvant was awarded £751,000 of grant funding from Innovate UK.
“In May 2017, Alvant also concluded a three-year, £1.2m R&D project under the ‘Make it lighter, with less’ competition run by Innovate UK, collaborating with industry world-leader GE Aviation, electric motors and controllers producer YASA Motors, and the National Composites Centre. This project created new computer aided engineering (CAE) software modelling packages for the design and analysis of AMCs to reduce product development lead times,” said Thompson.
“Growing interest in AMCs is affirmed by big-brand collaborative projects and government funding. In the last year alone, aerospace companies Rolls-Royce and Safran Landing Systems and car maker Ford Motor Company have all engaged in collaborative projects with Alvant. Some of these projects have been awarded, between them, £2m in grant funding, including £1.5m from the government-backed innovation agency Innovate UK,” added Thompson.
Alvant recently completed a £7.9m four-year collaborative project to bring AMC technology to production readiness, which included £1.9 m of funding from the Government-backed Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMCSI).