NDT to play a crucial role in weight reduction of automobiles


On 23 March 2017, over 60 delegates, comprising designers, manufacturers, materials experts and regulators from the automotive industry and non-destructive testing (NDT) community, gathered to participate in a workshop on NDT requirements for automotive composites, held at The Manufacturing Technology Centre, Coventry, UK. The workshop was the brainchild of Professor Robert Smith, immediate Past President of the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT).

Vehicle weight reduction has been a gradual yet pertinent part of car manufacture throughout time, but more recently a new urgency has emerged in this area due to considerable environmental regulatory pressure with regards to reducing CO2 emissions. Manufacturers are sure that NDT can play a crucial role by optimising manufacturing cycle times where composites are 
used as a weight reduction solution in high-volume car manufacture.

Experts from the automotive industry briefed the NDT community on ways in which NDT could help to increase the use of composites. Covering subjects such as motorsport, sports cars and supercars, regulation, insurance and repair and high-volume challenges, the programme included speakers from influential companies and organisations such as Williams F1, DolphiTech, HORIBA MIRA, Jaguar Land Rover and Wavelength NDT, as well as educational institutions and research centres, such as the University of Bristol, Thatcham Research, The National Composites Centre and The Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Professor Robert Smith said: “The workshop was successful beyond my expectations. Not only was it oversubscribed, but we also attracted more of the automotive sector than I expected, so the breakout sessions were very enthusiastic and well informed. NDT industry delegates learned a lot about the future light-weighting challenges facing the automotive sector and how NDT will be crucial. We have to ramp up the skills level in composites in this sector over a very short period. The venue, catering and BINDT conference organisation were all great and I received many comments of appreciation about the whole event.” 

The requirements resulting from the workshop have been documented and a report on the workshop will be prepared and published as a referenceable BINDT publication.

The next composites workshop of this kind will take place in 2018 and will focus on maritime composites. Information will be available on the BINDT website (www.bindt.org) in due course, along with the accompanying publication for the workshop on NDT requirements for automotive composites.