The Anand Group is all set to ink a joint venture with Axon Automotive of the UK to develop a composite material that can help in lightweighting vehicle structures. It is understood that the composite material (called Axontex) reduces parts weight by 20% compared to steel and costs similar to aluminium in kilograms. With this product, Anand plans to target vehicle segments like passenger cars, small commercial vehicles and heavy commercial vehicles as its customers. The JV is likely to take shape within the next six months to a year.
Axon Automotive is a specialist vehicle manufacturer, producing ultra-light energy efficient vehicles for customers around the world. Axon is able to produce primary vehicle structures that weigh 50% less than conventional vehicles by using its internationally patented carbon fibre beam technology, Axontex.
What is Axontex?
Axon Automotive has developed a composite material system that allows for automotive body structures to be manufactured affordably using space frames, thus minimising the requirement for expensive materials. This philosophy places high stiffness and high strength materials only where they are required allowing cheaper materials to be used for low stress structural panels. This approach has shown that as little as 15kg of carbon fibre per vehicle is feasible. Glass fibre braids can also be manufactured using this process.
A fundamental part of the frame is Axon’s patented material Axontex which starts out as a braided tube which is infused with resin to form a beam of the desired cross sectional shape. This braided beam approach allows for minimal material wastage as only the beam ends require trimming (closed aperture surrounds require no trimming). This allows one dimensional (1D) beams through to three dimensional (3D) frames to be manufactured. The process has been proven on four different vehicles with 3D mouldings being successfully implemented. The process can be automated for high-volume production and also hand made for small series production and prototyping runs.
Axontex beam and frame structures contain no structural internal structural foams or formers and are thus hollow. It is possible to allow for wiring looms to be run within the beams.
Axontex is the world's only patented mass production technology for structural space-frame applications made from carbon fibre. Other carbon processes make panels and sheets. The benefits are as follows:
- Axontex is as strong as steel and 60% lighter – for applications that require energy to move a structure, such as a car, the savings in fuel costs are up to 20%.
- Tooling complexity and costs are low – multiple design iterations can be tested quickly and economically.
- The characteristics of an Axon component can be tuned to give specific stiffness, strength and crash performance without the need for tooling modification. This reduces design and development costs.
- Axontex can easily be formed into single curved components and structures of much greater complexity than other lightweight competitors such as aluminium.
- The processes to fully automate the production of Axontex structures have been developed and patented. For the first time, this will enable the production of entire vehicle space frames from composites alone. Axon Automotive has designed many structures using loops or hoops of carbon fibre made from flexible tubes.
The Anand Group is participating at the ongoing Auto Expo Components Show in New Delhi, where it is displaying a varied range of products from its companies including Mahle Behr India, Gabriel India, CY MYutec, Haldex India, Spicer India and Takata India (Hall 12A, Stall No. 17).