The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield in the UK has developed a metal composite hybrid stabilizer bar for trucks and trains.

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield in the UK has developed a metal composite hybrid stabilizer bar for trucks and trains.

According to the center, the bar could be 30% lighter than those currently on the market.

The Lightweight Metal Composite Hybrid (LiMeCH) project, run by the AMRC and engineering companies Tinsley Bridge and Performance Engineered Solutions, has received £400,000 in funding from Innovate UK.

In the two-year project, the partners aimed to create a suitable joint between a composite tube and a metallic end fitting that together form an anti-roll bar (ARB), a key part of a vehicle’s suspension unit. The joint needed to be capable of transmitting the same loads as the equivalent part manufactured from steel spring.

The AMRC has so far produced four anti-roll bar prototypes using a filament winding system in which filaments of carbon, impregnated with resin, are wound onto a rotating mandrel to form a desired shape.

Carbon fiber composites are not yet used in the volume automotive sector for functional parts such as suspension systems, the AMRC said. Instead, the industry standard is a steel tube welded to metallic end fittings. However, replacing the steel with lighter materials could help improve fuel efficiency and allow users to meet new emissions regulations. Composite materials are less affected by fatigue so their use can deliver increased reliability without compromising performance, according to engineers.

“Lightweighting is top of the agenda for our customers,” said Russell Crow, director of engineering at Tinsley Bridge. “That is even more so when they are looking at alternative propulsion systems, such as electric drive trains and alternative fuels, because every gram they can save offsets the additional mass they have to carry for the batteries or hydrogen fuel tank.

“This project was not about making a very expensive composite part, but about how we could bond together metallics and composites to create high configurability from a low number of stock parts,” he added.

“As the automotive industry moves towards greater electrification and lighter weight parts, there is ever greater focus on moving away from wholly metallic components,” said Craig Atkins, research engineer at the AMRC Composite Centre. “Finding a way to bond metallics to composites and reduce a component’s weight by almost a third is a significant step along the road to net zero.”