With the increasing prominence of ‘green tech’ goals in environmental, sustainability and governance statements, the design of innovative, energy-efficient products has become ever more crucial. The automotive and aerospace sectors, as well as industrial processes and high-end consumer products, are constantly seeking new ways to increase the performance, fuel efficiency, longevity and recyclability of their products, while maintaining or improving their strength and safety. These can be conflicting goals.
One solution, which addresses these targets and can be easily customised by application and need, is a material known as aluminium matrix composite (AMC).
AMCs are aluminium that has been reinforced with a secondary high-performance material, to provide a perfect combination of light weight and strength for components that are relied upon in the most demanding applications. They provide the strength and stiffness of steel at less than half the weight. They also offer advantages over carbon composite material, including higher transverse strength and stiffness, superior damage tolerance and a higher thermal operating range. Components made of AMCs can reduce the weight of components thereby reducing fuel consumption in vehicles and aircraft, often mid-life cycle and without requiring major design changes.
Basingstoke-based company Alvant manufactures AMCs using a proprietary Advanced Liquid Pressure Forming (ALPF) process and offers a range of AMC materials. The company is fast becoming recognised as an authority for metallic based advanced materials, assisted most recently by the launch of an innovative new multiphase material.
Alvant has invested £10 m into developing, prototyping and testing AMC materials and has secured a significant number of projects with high profile clients and R&D project partners, among them Safran Landing Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce. Two commercial contracts with tier 1 aerospace customers, who generate more than £10 bn in revenue themselves, have recently been secured and will be delivered in 2019.