Thanks to their strength, corrosion resistance and formability, carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRP) are increasingly being used for automotive and aerospace structures. Adhesives are ideal for assembling CFRP.
Metal-plastic composites (MPCs) have many advantages for producing lightweight structures. They are lighter than steel, yet very strong. They can be shaped using standard cold-forming processes. And, they are less expensive than aluminum alloys.
Manufacturing large, monolithic composite parts, such as a car body or an aircraft fuselage, requires a large and complex mold. As a result, the process can be quite costly. Alternatively, such complex parts can be manufactured less expensively by assembling a series of smaller parts using various joining techniques.
Traditionally, aircraft manufacturers have been reluctant to adopt robots and other types of automation. One of the main challenges is that large plane parts come with relatively high geometry deviations, so robots need sensor guidance.
Steel has been, is now, and will continue to be the predominant material for vehicle structures and body parts, such as doors, hoods, liftgates and fenders. But, other materials, such as aluminum, magnesium, plastics and composites, are becoming increasingly important.
Self-pierce riveting (SPR) is a cold joining process for fastening two or more sheets of material by driving a rivet through the top sheets and upsetting it, under the influence of a die, into the bottom sheet without breaking through it.
Drilling rivet holes in composite materials has been a challenge for many years. Traditionally, using standard tools has resulted in rapid tool wear and material damage, including integrity, surface quality and delamination.
Automotive and aerospace manufacturers have been at the forefront of the lightweighting trend for some time now. But, they're not the only ones. The railway industry could also benefit from the use of new, lightweight structural materials.