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Nov 14, 2021

Direct Conversion Partners with TWI for CFRP Inspection Solution for Car Industry

- By Jacqueline Wheeler

Direct Conversion has teamed with independent research and technology group, TWI, for the Innovate UK-funded TACOMA project, which aims to develop next generation non-destructive evaluation solutions for carbon reinforced polymers (CFRPs) in the automotive industry.

The TACOMA project will assist in the facilitation of lightweight CFRP parts into the automotive supply chain, where there is a need to develop lighter materials solutions to reduce the weight of vehicles. Reduced weight increases both fuel efficiency and the battery range of electric vehicles, with each 100kg of weight saved reducing CO2 emissions by 20g/km. 

Direct Conversion’s advanced photon counting X-ray detectors deliver the essential high-resolution images at fast speeds that can reduce industry inspection times, allowing technicians to focus on higher value activities and widening the use of CFRPs in the supply chain.

CEO of Direct Conversion, Spencer Gunn, said, “This is another example of how our fast, flexible photon counting imaging combined with innovative image collection strategies can help take radiographic NDT into areas it was difficult to penetrate before. Complex shapes and large area parts can be scanned quickly and comprehensively now, paving the way for advances in the technology of construction that can help reduce cost and environmental impact.” 

TACOMA’s goals are in line with global aims to reduce emissions, aligning with the UK Government’s priorities to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating a pathway to build strategic partnerships between UK business and other global players in CFRP inspection. 

Daniel Odili, Industrial Sales Segment Leader for Direct Conversion, explained, “Large scale manufacturing of CFRP automotive parts requires a NDE inspection system that offers rapid, cost-effective and high accuracy to evaluate parts quality. At the heart of Tacoma NDE solution is Direct Conversion’s photon counting detector which has been implemented within diverse industrial X-ray applications. Our ultrafast-scanning, high resolution, highly sensitive detector brings significant added value to the detection of defects such as voids/porosity, contaminants, reduced-resin-filling in CFRP materials. The TACOMA prototype system is scalable and will be made available to industry automakers and tier suppliers for high volume, high speed manufacturing of CFRP composite automotive components to help improve global environmental footprint. We also aim to adapt TACOMA inspection technology to the manufacturing of clean energy products, including wind turbines/blades driving towards eco-friendly products and solutions.”

This partnership shows how the UK sets the pace in the development, manufacture and use of systems for lightweighting and low carbon-enabling technologies. 

Image shows Fiat/Chrysler Group carbon composite hood assembly, 2013, by spe.automotive, CC BY 2.0 IT <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/it/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons