The Sigmatex Lightweighting Excellence Programme (LX) has been awarded £3.8 million from the latest AMSCI round of funding. The LX consortium will address the lack of capability in the automotive sector to manufacture composite components at high volumes of scale in the UK by connecting the key elements of designing, manufacturing and creating capacity for production.

The lightweighting programme is a strategic cooperation led by Sigmatex in partnership with Caparo Advanced Composites, Cranfield University, Expert Tooling & Automation, Granta Design, Group Rhodes, LMAT, Surface Generation, Tilsatec and with support from Axillium Research and Axillium Lightfellows. Three UK-based automotive OEMs will work closely with the LX manufacturing and technical partners.

Excellent reputation

A total project value of £7.15 million of joint funding from AMSCI and industry will support the creation of 238 new jobs and safeguard 144 existing jobs between 2015 and 2021.

While the UK has an excellent reputation for developing advanced technology for niche, mid, and high volumes of vehicles, with 1.6 million vehicles per year produced currently, the majority are wholly metallic structures. The LX programme offers OEMs and partners the opportunity to accelerate capability in lightweight structures to achieve weight reduction targets driven by stricter EU emission legislation which comes into effect in 2020.

‘The automotive industry is achieving huge advances in creating more efficient cars,’ said Sigmatex’s CEO, Scott Tolson.’ However there is also a significant potential to make cars lighter by the use of carbon fiber. This innovative project aims to develop ways to reduce the cost and upscale the incorporation of composites in cars, so that such materials can be used in a wider range of vehicles. With the support from OEMs this is a real opportunity to create a UK supply chain that is able and capable to meet the future demands of this important and growing industry.’