Research to develop a revolutionary high-performance composite metal hybrid anti-roll bars for trucks and trains has shown that the technology has the potential to give the Sheffield region a global lead in the vehicle and aerospace sectors.
Sheffield based Tinsley Bridge Ltd, one of the world’s leading suppliers of anti-roll bars, is working on the project, co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, with engineering design specialists Performance Engineered Solutions (PES) Ltd and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
The project is investigating the development and manufacture of lighter composite materials as an alternative to traditional metal anti-roll bars. Lightweight anti-roll bars could cut fuel consumption and emissions from rail and heavy road vehicles whilst also improving their reliability.
A previous Innovate UK funded project achieved a significant 65% reduction in the weight of the stabiliser bar by replacing the current solid steel component with a carbon fibre composite member. This weight reduction was achieved without compromising performance, and also offered improved product durability, given that the carbon composite materials are less affected by fatigue.
This project will further develop the design of the anti-roll bars and undertake a wide variety of laboratory tests simulating the conditions that the anti-roll bars will face during their service life.
PES Performance is heading up the engineering and design side of the project, using its expertise in composites and lightweight materials to design the anti-roll bars. Also, PES Performance will 3D optically scan the manufactured parts as part of the quality inspection process to check the manufactured parts against the original designs.
The AMRC’s Composite Centre produced the anti-roll bar prototypes using its MF Tech filament winding system. It also used its CT scanner capability to inspect the inside of the bar, checking the structural integrity and verifying the build quality.
Project manager at Tinsley Bridge, Russell Crow, said; “The targeted application of composite materials in automotive and rail applications has the potential to form the basis of a new era of vehicles. Significant weight reduction can be achieved by redesigning structural and safety-critical components to maximise their performance when manufactured from non-traditional materials.
“The goal of this project is to demonstrate what can be achieved on a heavy-duty anti-roll bar without compromising the safety of the vehicle. In order to deliver such a challenging brief, we built a strong consortium, comprising of world experts in their respective fields. I am delighted that we found such engineering and manufacturing expertise in the South Yorkshire region.”
Engineering director at PES Performance Ltd, Dean Gardner added; “Carbon fibre composites are commonly used in high end supercars but have yet to see widespread use in the volume automotive sector. This project aims to show the wider benefits that these materials can provide.
“One of the major challenges has been to achieve a strong and durable interface between the materials in the hybrid anti-roll bars design, in order to achieve the required fatigue performance. With our experience in lightweighting and composites, it is good to be working with Tinsley Bridge and the AMRC on this exciting, potentially ground-breaking project.”
Technical lead for the AMRC Composite Centre, Anthony Stevenson, said: “The collaboration with Tinsley Bridge and PES Performance has resulted in the development of a completely new hybrid component to meet the challenges of heavy vehicle stabiliser and torsion bars for the very first time; all whilst introducing weight savings that lead to a variety of benefits such as improved fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.
“We are delighted to continue the development of a new design for the hybrid anti-roll bar as the collaboration has the potential to develop a leading place for the UK with a disruptive technology that has global implications; one that will also have applications in other sectors including the aerospace and rail industries.”