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ATL at Seawork’16: to Present its ’Smart’ Technology Fastening Solutions

Published on 2016-06-09. Author : SpecialChem

Southampton, UK -- Adhesion Technologies Ltd. (ATL), is exhibiting for the first time at Seawork International 2016 commercial marine and work boat exhibition (stand SR11), which this year runs from 14-16 June at Mayflower Park, Southampton, UK. Seawork 2016 is the ideal platform to launch its new, superior performance lightweight Spida™ Fixings and fastening system. ATL’s innovative new fixing technology has been specifically developed to offer OEMs and Tier 1 companies a fast, cost effective system for the modular assembly of composite, metal and plastic parts using a choice of both metallic and non-metallic fixings. This globally patented, new ’smart’ technology fastening system is the outcome of more than five years of research and development (R&D).

ATL at Seawork’16
Fig. 1: ATL at Seawork’16

ATL has developed a range of five new Spida Fixings solutions, with the first of these branded ‘Spida Studs’ being officially launched at the Seawork 2016 show. Spida studs are available in standard diameters M4 to M12 and lengths from 20mm to 60mm, with matching bases and threaded ‘blind’ or ‘through’ standoffs. Spida studs, threaded standoffs and bases can be used alone or together as a welded fixing.

Performance Enhancement Technology

Spida Fixings use a proprietary adhesion system which forms a high strength bond with a wide range of substrates. Spida bases have a number of key design features incorporated to improved adhesive performance. All base option designs include a large bearing area for attachments and a positive landing area which prevents adhesive from being squeezed out from under the fixing, as well as concave shape that provides a ‘micro chamber’ in which an adhesive’s long chain molecule structure can orientate from 0 to 180 degrees during curing, resulting in enhanced peel, shear, torsion, cleavage, tension and compressive loading capabilities. Each Spida base also uses a unique, patented surface enhancement treatment technology on the bond interface. The overall result is a stronger, lighter, higher performance method of mechanically joining metal, composite and engineering plastic components which, according to the test data provides up to 54% more adhesion performance; the Grippa base fixing option, with its castellated edge design, provides 24% greater torsional resistance strength than circular fixings by forming lugs in adhesive.

According to ATL, Spida Fixings can achieve weight and cost savings by spreading stress across a larger part of the substrate, enabling designers to specify a smaller diameter of fixing, with no loss of performance in use. Extensive comparative testing by ATL has shown that many of the current composite fixing designs can prematurely fail before reaching the metallic stud’s ISO specified breaking point. To overcome this potential failure problem, OEM design specifiers typically go for ‘next size up’ fixings. Independent tests have proved that ATL’s Spida fixings fail much closer to the ISO limit and therefore can replace currently specified fixings with a lighter and cheaper ‘next size down’ SPIDA fixings option in many instances.

Metal and Thermoplastic Options

Depending on the end application and specification needs, metallic and non-metallic fastening stud and standoff options are produced and now available.

The two metal fixings options, which ATL primarily developed for composite component fastenings in land transportation and marine applications, provide design engineers with a choice of using cold headed high strength Manganese Boron (20MnB4) steel alloy fixings with deep draw (CR4) Manganese steel bases, or marine grade Molybdenum alloyed 316L austenitic stainless steel fixings and bases.

Non-metallic ‘super lightweight’ versions have also been developed by ATL to help further reduce final assembled weight of composite structural components and to also provide fastenings with RADAR ‘stealth’ properties where end products need to be effective radar absorbing structures (RAS), such as in warships, military stealth aircraft, UAVs and some wind turbine blades. The two engineering plastic Spida Fixings options available are manufactured from either a tough, general purpose, glass fibre filled nylon (Polyamide 6), or a higher performance carbon fibre filled Polyetherimide (PEI) thermoplastic composite material; the characteristics of PEI which enables it to replace metals in many structural applications include: high strength and rigidity at elevated temperatures; long term heat resistance; dimensional stability; good electrical properties; excellent long term creep resistance.

Independent Performance Testing

An ongoing, long term validation test program is in place, using independent test houses, to provide data which shows how ATL’s new Spida fastening solutions can provide enhanced surface adhesion performance (up to 54% more) for less weight, while at the same time increases the mechanical performance capabilities and ultimate stress limits of assembled, load bearing composite parts. The testing program covers the mechanical properties of the metal and plastic stud and base fixings, as well as the bond performance in tension, compression and shear modes of the patented base bonding system applied to a wide range of metal and composite substrates. This long term performance testing program is being carried out by approved global fastening component suppliers: Pressavon; Tappex; and Barton Cold Form, and at the Research Institute for Industry (RIfI) at the University of Southampton; RIfI is a consultancy and applied research organisation which technically supports and collaborates with industry in the specialist fields of engineering, providing access to the university’s Faculty of Engineering and the Environment facilities and research expertise in a wide range of engineering sciences.

Composites Engineering Focus

In manufacturing industries where weight saving in the main structural body and related application components is critical, new mechanical fixing technologies are needed for the latest product designs, which increasingly are specifying high performance, glass and carbon fiber reinforced thermoset and thermoplastic composites. Spida fixings have been designed by composites engineers to help engineers working in aerospace, boatbuilding, construction, transportation and automotive companies to find a lighter, better engineered method of initially designing, making and assembling parts, and then being able to efficiently repair and maintain finished end products manufactured from modern composite materials.

Colin Wood, Managing Director and originator of this new advanced technology explains how their unique fastening system provides enhanced performance capabilities and ultimate stress limits for assembled, load bearing composite parts: “For design engineering, what makes this new fixing technology different from other fasteners currently available is that the Spida fixing system actively redistributes cluster stress loads in the substrate to which it is fixed, so significantly reducing stress levels in the immediate fixing area, whilst also providing a very lightweight, tough and strong fastening solution. To my knowledge, this is the first time a composites engineer as opposed to a mechanical ‘metals’ engineer has designed a fixing specifically for the composites sector.” Mr Wood is an award winning mechanical and composites engineer with over 30 years’ experience designing, manufacturing and marketing products across Europe, the USA and China. His key involvement has been with structural composites for the automotive, armour and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sectors.

Future NPD Projects and Grant Funding

Adhesion Technologies Ltd. has its main offices in the University of Southampton’s Science Park, Chilworth, with a separate production operation for all Spida Fixings at its new purpose built factory located in the New Forest. The new start-up company was set up with matched grant funding and support from the UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), Solent Enterprise Partnership, The University of Southampton (SETsquared partnership) and the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Program (NATEP) administered by the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC); grants and support from these bodies are provided with the shared objectives of boosting local employment and to grow British manufacturing.

With an eye to the future, ATL is currently working on a number of joint new product development (NPD) projects specifically aimed at ‘next generation’ aerospace, marine and automotive fastening designs with international materials partners including Tappex, Pressavon, Hexcel Reinforcements UK Ltd, Henkel and Huntsman, along with design engineers from OEM partners Jaguar Land Rover, Leonardo-Finmeccanica SpA. (AgustaWestland) and GKN Aerospace. The ATL business team additionally offers free customer fixings advice, plus ‘pre and post manufacturing’ composite Finite Element Analysis (FEA) support to automotive, aerospace and marine customers. Opportunities are also available to externally develop and validate fastening solutions with the contracted assistance of The University of Southampton’s RIfI engineering research services and facilities.

About Adhesion Technologies Ltd.

Adhesion Technologies Ltd. is an innovative, British engineering and design company with its main offices in the University of Southampton’s Science Park, Chilworth, and a purpose built factory with R & D facilities located in the New Forest, near Southampton, where it manufactures a range of high performance SpidaTMFixings and systems a choice of metal or non-metallic fixings, used for the assembly of composite, metal and plastic parts. The business also offers free consulting for composite designers looking to investigate how Spida Fixings can be used to enhance the performance of either existing or new structures and component fabrication processes.

The innovative, globally patented, ’smart’ technology fastenings and superior performance adhesion system, commercialised for both industry and DIY consumers, is the outcome of more than five years of research and development (R&D), carried out by Adhesion Technologies, based on in-house technical knowledge and engineering expertise gained from over 30 years of international manufacturing experience designing and producing automotive, armour and drone structures.

The company is part UK government funded, having secured grants from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), with support from the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC) and The University of Southampton’s ‘SETsquared’ partnership, with ongoing projects in collaboration with key partners to continue the development of revolutionary, ‘smart’ technology lightweight fastening solutions and automated assembly processes for OEMs and Tier 1 companies.

Source: Adhesion Technologies

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