Bonding composite to metal with no adhesives

Working on the Ariel Hipercar project, Powdertech Surface Science has developed a process, that uses no adhesives, for bonding polypropylene glass fibre composite to aluminium for the vehicle’s monocoque chassis.

The process, called Powderbond – part of an Innovate UK funded project called SOLMAC – requires no surface preparation for the polymer, no activation period and is single stage, placing powder coated aluminium into a mould together with polypropylene and using the standard composite curing cycle.

Simon Saunders, founder of Ariel Motor Company, said: “The process is clean and quick, and the bond strength achieved far surpasses current adhesive-based methods.”

A typical chassis is made up of several hundred separate parts, welded and rivetted together. By creating the aluminium-composite bonds within a mould, the number of parts in the Hipercar chassis has been reduced by over 75%.

“Bonding metals and composites in a single stage gives tremendous freedom in design,” explained Powdertech director, James Grant. “Complex and intricate shapes can be moulded into the composite structure whilst also incorporating high strength metal features.”

Tom Austin-Morgan

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