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20th June 2018, Basingstoke

Soaring demand for aluminium matrix composites

Alvant is a new name in the design and manufacture of aluminium matrix composites (AMCs) which has secured a series of contracts in the aerospace, defence and automotive sectors.

The Basingstoke, UK-based company – formerly Composite Metal Technology (CMT) – has been selected by Safran Landing Systems to participate in the £28 million ‘Large Landing Gear of the Future’ R&D project and has also received orders to supply to projects involving Rolls Royce and Ford.

Safran Large Landing Gear of the Future. © Alvant

Alvant’s proprietary advanced liquid pressure forming (ALPF) technology for AMCs is based on continuous ceramic fibres embedded into an aluminium matrix to provide unique properties, which can be tailored according to the application.

Within the past 12 months, commercial demand has increased significantly for the advanced composite material due to its greater strength, higher stiffness, lower weight and superior wear resistance, as well as lower coefficients of thermal and electrical conductivity.]

Alvant’s new management team has focused on responding to and shaping these commercial opportunities.

Advantages

“The commercial readiness of AMCs comes at a time of increasing demand for strong yet lightweight components in transport and defence, industrial processes and high-end consumer products,” explains John Bonas, Alvant managing director. “Today’s design teams are looking for ways to increase product capabilities and performance while simultaneously meeting ambitious goals for fuel efficiency and sustainability. These are often conflicting challenges for which AMCs can be a solution.

“AMCs provide the strength and stiffness of steel at less than half the weight. They also offer advantages over carbon composite materials, including higher transverse strength and stiffness, superior damage tolerance, and a higher thermal operating range. AMCs can be used to engineer more durable lightweight components for harsh environments.”

Alvant owns the proprietary rights to the ALPF AMC manufacturing process and has full-service capability, offering engineering consultancy, concept development and component design through to prototype manufacture, low-volume production and the sale of licensing for higher-volume production. 

Alvant is currently engaged in the following active projects:

The ‘Large Landing Gear of the Future’ R&D project with Safran Landing Systems, to develop, mature and demonstrate key technologies to improve aircraft landing gear design, manufacture, operation and cost of ownership. This is a two-year project, with a £513,000 grant for Alvant’s contribution.  

The ‘Make it lighter, with less’ competition run by Innovate UK, to create new computer aided engineering (CAE) software modelling packages for the design and analysis of AMCs, to reduce product development lead times. The three-year, £1.2 million R&D project has awarded a grant to Alvant of £395,000, collaborating with GE Aviation, YASA Motors and the National Composites Centre.

The ‘Materials & Manufacturing’ (NGM) run by Innovate UK, to develop next generation low cost AMCs for the emerging global market, a 30-month, £1.4 million collaborative R&D project.

The ‘Materials & Manufacturing 2’ R&D project with Ford Motor Company for developing a new casting method for the manufacture of hybrid-AMC components for high-performance production cars, a 30-month £1.6 million R&D project with an Innovate UK grant to Alvant of £751,000.

The ‘Breakthrough Aerospace Material’ (BAM) three-year project, to research the use of woven composite material for application to aircraft structures with Rolls Royce, through the Aerospace Technology Institute.

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