Design and manufacturing of smart and lightweight structures

There are plenty of new materials but often traditional production methods are not suited for integrating these new technologies. This research project studies, among others, methods that consider production aspects in the design phase and analyses the optimal combination of materials and corresponding joining techniques. It also searches for intelligent solutions to counteract the disadvantages of lightweight structures (such as poorer NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) performances) without having to add mass.

Projects

ENHANCED VEHICLE PERFORMANCE VIA STRUCTURAL REINFORCEMENTS

Current techniques to improve vehicle performances with more solid constructions still offer room for improvement in terms of weight, cost and performance. Flanders Make wants to support Flemish companies in this domain by acquiring knowledge. To this end, we developed within the scope of this project, which ran from January 2013 up to June 2016, methodologies and tools to assess and optimise current techniques (focussing on local reinforcements) so as to meet the product and process requirements, both in terms of stiffness and impact resistance, and to improve acoustic performances. The research project also wanted to lower the overall cost by integrating additional functionalities in these structures and by generating modular designs. This makes Flemish products better, safer and more competitive.

Curious about this project? Watch this video:

INTEGRATION AND MANUFACTURABILITY ASPECTS OF LIGHTWEIGHT STRUCTURES EXPLOITING INHERENT DYNAMIC PROPERTIES

The NVH (noise, vibration & harshness) performances of conventional panels and structures are driven mainly by their mass. Low-noise structures often require heavy constructions, which is contrary to the trend towards lightweight designs. Academics have already shown that vibro-acoustic metamaterials, based on resonance, can offer relief as new NVH solutions. The challenge of this project, which runs from January 2016 to December 2019, is to convert this technology in robust and reliable industrial solutions. The research focuses on the manufacturability and integration aspects of such metamaterials. This will make it possible to combine superior noise and vibration isolation (at least in targeted and adjustable frequency ranges) with lightweight structures.

Curious about this project? Watch this video:

MULTIMATERIAL JOINING

To remain competitive, it is crucial to optimise existing and develop new composite products (both lightweight and commercially interesting). This project runs from November 2016 to October 2018 and wants to encourage and support companies to explore and try out innovative joining techniques (welding, adhesive bonding, mechanical connections). These techniques make it possible to design new, higher-quality products and contribute to a more sustainable technological development. If the right material is used efficiently in the right place, less material will be needed and products will become lighter. This will in turn decrease both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission.

 

ZERO DEFECT MANUFACTURING FOR ADHESIVE BONDING – COLLECTIVE RESEARCH NETWORKING

The purpose of this joint European project is developing and validating quality assurance and control methods for adhesive bonds. Flanders Make supported this research project from May 2014 to January 2017. Up to 2016, we also contributed to a Flemish project with Flemish partners that was linked to this European project. The results are not only useful for companies in the vehicle industry but also for manufacturing companies. Better bonding applications improve production efficiency, lower production costs and increase the added value.

 

VIRTUAL DESIGN PLATFORM FOR SHEET MATERIAL PRODUCTS

Today, designing formed sheet material products is often a matter of trial & error. The forming process itself is variable and inherently insecure and also has an impact on the thickness and properties of the formed sheet material. The purpose of this project, which runs from December 2015 to November 2017, is to develop and validate a virtual design platform. It wants to combine process and product modelling to use the lightweight potential to the maximum extent possible and limit the risk of failure to a minimum. This virtual design platform allows to predict product features based on process parameters and to consider the impact of variations in the forming process itself. This will reduce both the weight of and testing costs for such products and paves the way for the actual co-optimisation of process and product performances.