TRB Lightweight Structures (TRB) said it has a new production process to deliver continuous-fiber thermoset composite parts at high volume. By combining innovations in materials science with robotic manufacturing, TRB said it is making advanced composites competitive for automotive and aviation markets. This automated manufacturing process is already being used to supply a global Tier 1 powertrain manufacturer with critical battery components destined for electric buses.
Lightweight composites are a key element for the development of electric vehicles, said TRB. The company has used its in-house expertise across various transport sectors to develop cost-effective alternatives to metal or composite components, creating a fully-integrated manufacturing process to deliver parts at the volumes required by its customers.
TRB said its manufacturing process combines proprietary snap-cure resins and in-house produced prepreg materials with robotic production to generate high-spec, ready-to-ship thermoset parts in minutes. These custom materials are fed into a fully-integrated process, automating cutting, lay up, pressing and curing to allow parts to be manufactured faster and more cost effectively, while meeting exacting quality standards.
The company said the rapid method of manufacturing is ideally suited to the high volume production of components for EVs – as well as a wide range of other applications – and can be adapted to include additional material layers offering thermal, electrical conductivity and electromagnetic radiation protection. TRB manufactures its prepreg materials in house, putting the company in a unique position to provide modified resins and materials to meet precise application requirements.
“While high volume composites have many applications, we have chosen to focus on the fast-expanding EV market – both on the road and in the sky – given our mission to accelerate the transition to sustainable transportation,” said Richard Holland, managing director of TRB.
TRB has created a high volume production facility in the U.S. and is establishing the same capabilities at its UK base. The U.S. operation is located in Richmond, Ky., and is a joint venture with Toyota Tsusho America. Earlier this year it began delivering composite battery enclosures to a Tier 1 supplier to the truck and bus industry.