Immediately after celebrating five years of completion in operation, the Research & Development team at local manufacturing giant, Nifco UK, has brought in a major industry-changer project to its successful conclusion after a period of a 12-month development phase.
The nine-strong R&D team at the Eaglescliffe manufactures parts used in the engines, interiors and exteriors of cars produced by Ford, General Motors, Honda , Jaguar Landrover, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Vauxhall Opel has worked collectively with material supplier Celanese and prototyping company Graphite AM, to design, prototype and test a new engine bracket which could bring significant benefits to the running of the vehicle.
Steve Garrett, R&D Manager, quotes, “This product – a bracket which supports the powertrain and withstands all the loads from the engine during operation – is a significant piece of kit and is traditionally made using aluminium. We’ve tested various materials to be able to design and develop the same bracket using long glass fibre reinforced plastic, providing a weight saving of 0.7kg or 50% – contributing to a reduction of CO2 emissions, or in an electric vehicle – extending range.”
As per the figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK-registered electric vehicles (EV) have increased considerably in the past years. It has risen from 500 per month in 2014 to nearly 5,000 per month in the year 2018. With this significant enhancement in charging infrastructure and battery mileage-range along with the government’s efforts to lessen diesel engine ownership- the upward EV trajectory tends to continue.
Steve further added: “Our new engine bracket can be fitted to both traditional combustion engines as well as an Electric Vehicle motor system and, in their positive feedback, we are hearing from customers that more sustainable, environmentally-friendly solutions are favourable. This product not only offers a weight reduction, but the actual production process is more energy and cost efficient than traditional methods, such as aluminium die-casting – for example the part is quicker to make, so it can be scaled up more easily for the mass market and the tool to mould the component would only need replacing every five years instead of six months. So, saving the customer both time and money, not to mention reducing the environmental impact from a ‘well to wheel’ measure.”
Adam Hall, Account Development Manager at Celanese stated: “I am delighted by the high level of performance achieved by such a light weight thermoplastic component – replacing steel in aggressive, high-load automotive applications. This innovative solution, enabled through the close working partnership between Nifco Design Engineers and Celanese’s CAE Engineering team from the start of the project, maximized the superior mechanical performance brought by Celanese’s long glass fiber reinforced Celstran LFRT technology.”
Steve concluded by saying: “Only a few weeks ago, there was an announcement of plans to build a recycling plant on Teesside – not 30 minutes from where we are based – we’ve got access to the facilities, and as a responsible manufacturer, my team is developing parts for the vehicles of the future whilst prioritising environmental impact”