Zircotec Group has developed the first plasma applied thermal barrier coating that can be used with composites that require a Class A display surface.
The new technology allows vehicle manufactures to use the lightweight materials in places that have previously not been possible, such as aerodynamic aids near exhaust pipes or the exhaust shrouds themselves.
The automotive industry is increasingly adopting composite components, largely to meet strict emissions regulations but also due to consumer demand for the aesthetic qualities of the materials.
However, using composites close to heat sources has previously required some form of heat shielding, which adds components and is largely unaccepted by vehicle manufacturers looking to maintain the aesthetics of visible surfaces.
Graeme Barette, Zircotec Group Director explains: “With new manufacturing techniques starting to make carbon composites more affordable, the material is increasingly offering an ideal solution where high strength must be combined with light weight.
“One of the barriers to adoption continues to be the material’s vulnerability to high temperatures. This new technique is the result of a request from a vehicle manufacturer to solve this challenge and is now fully validated and ready to roll-out in higher volumes.”
The technology is an evolution of Zircotec’s proven plasma-applied ceramic coating, a result of development carried out at the company’s in-house R&D facility.
The chemistry of the compound and the application process has been significantly modified specifically for application to composite materials.
The high-quality finish required for A Class surfaces has been achieved through specially-developed, high-precision automation of the application process and thorough quality control techniques.
The automation not only ensures a consistent finish that meets OEM recognised standards but enables Zircotec to process 100,000 parts a year.