Supporting UK Composites

bigHead Awarded KTP funding with Cranfield University for High-Volume Automotive Composites Fastener Integration

bigHead Bonding Fasteners has been awarded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funding with Cranfield University that it says will strengthen and expand its capabilities for fastening solutions related to the emerging demand in high-volume manufacture of lightweight composite components for the automotive industry.

The Innovate-UK part-funded Government scheme is a three-way partnership that includes the appointment of a high-quality engineering graduate to implement project work as a KTP Associate within bigHead, with close support from Cranfield’s Composites Centre. The Centre specialises in researching and teaching polymer composite manufacturing and hybrid composite-metallic joining techniques. The Centre is a core partner in the strategic EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp) and the AMSCI funded Lightweighting Excellence (LX) programme. bigHead are interested to hear from potential undergraduate and post-graduate candidates in mechanical engineering, materials science or design engineering related subjects looking for challenging career opportunities in this exciting and emerging area of industry.

With significant investment by automotive OEMs and Tiers for the adoption of lightweight materials at the high-end sector of the industry, and with the real potential to extend ‘lightweighting’ beyond luxury and supercars towards mass-market vehicle volumes, the need for rapid and efficient fastener integration is apparent.

bigHead already works closely with many major automotive manufacturers and their suppliers, and has developed new assembly techniques to precision-fix bigHeads to CFRP panels using specialist dry adhesives which have the potential to be scaled from prototyping and small scale production to fully automated, volume production. The Verwood-UK based manufacturer also has significant experience in directly embedding bigHeads into other types of high volume composite material components for the automotive industry.

bigHead has a 50 year history in bonding fastener design and manufacture, and has developed a fully documented production test system that ensures that every fastener produced is strong, safe and reliable. bigHead has been working with Cranfield on a number of projects, such as the application of bigHeads in high load applications. 

Matthew Stevens, bigHead’s Managing Director is looking forward to the opportunities the KTP will bring, he explains, “As vehicle lightweighting continues to redefine the composites landscape, bigHead’s vision is to lead the industry by developing integrated fastening solutions in close cooperation with our customers through a collaborative ‘engineer-to-engineer’ process. With Cranfield’s significant expertise in composites/ joining and its strong network of contacts in industry and research we see the KTP delivering significant results for our Company.”

The KTP will provide bigHead and Cranfield with practical and efficient solutions, supported by a strong applied knowledge. This will assist automotive manufacturers looking to maximise production throughput when integrating fastening components into their composite panels and components, especially carbon composite materials. It will also aim to provide the industry with standardised solutions, improved guidelines and test procedures related to this area.



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