Getting a grip on fasteners and their coatings within the transport sector
A focus on automotive and the EV market
By Sven Brehler, Engineering Project Manager at TR Fastenings
As a full service provider with a worldwide reach from the USA to Asia and Europe to the UK, TR Fastenings works closely with automotive Tier 1 companies to respond to their needs and global developments. Supplying 10,000 different fasteners annually into the automotive sector, TR is playing a central role in shaping the future of the fastener industry within this changing space.
Transport technology companies around the world are under pressure to innovate as a result of rising cost pressures, and trends such as lightweighting, autonomous driving and electro mobility growing apace.
Suppliers into Tier 1, such as TR Fastenings are increasingly required to come up with technical innovations for fasteners that work harder and ‘smarter’ that can be produced quickly and cost-effectively.
The key fastening applications within automotive include sub tier manufacturers; seating; power trains; thermal management; HVAC; high-end performance cars and the EV market - the latter being the fastest growing sector for TR Fastenings to which they supply automotive grade fasteners to OEM specification. It’s an evolving application that is leading the fastener industry to greater sophistication.
Lightweighting in fastener technology
Achieving fastener weight reduction whilst maintaining high torque demands have become an important requirement in automotive applications. Industrial drive systems such as the Mortorq® screw require up to 25% less material in the head yet still provide super high strength internal drive – an example of an innovative system providing the lowest head possible without compromising on fastener assembly performance.
Fastenings and their coatings within the EV sector
Batteries, motors, transmissions and all their associated electronics are the leading technology areas of EV R&D and the fastenings and their coatings play an essential role.
Why are fastening innovations crucial for EV battery (EVB) manufacturers?
There are a number of components which are particularly relevant for EVB assembly - fasteners with electrically isolating coatings; lightweight, non-magnetic fasteners; battery retention bolts; cable management hardware and compression limiters.
Coatings do more than just provide protection against corrosion
An EV’s battery module can be secured with inserts for plastics that are used to maintain either good connectivity where required or avoid unwanted short-circuits due to corrosion or product failure.
Highly conductive coatings can be applied to certain materials such as plastic fasteners or fasteners prone to corrosion so they can act as electrical conductors, being part of the electrical circuitry. Increase in electrical resistance causes generation of heat together with loss of energy.
Insulation coatings are advantageous
Regarding insulation coatings, in certain cases electrical currents must be contained. Barrier coatings avoid electricity from going where it shouldn’t and causing interference or a risk to safety through electrocution or fire.
One solution does not fit all
As well as hardware in battery casings and structures, many differing conditions also need to be considered so adopting a ‘one solutions fits all’ approach to applying coatings would not be appropriate.
Automotive quality standards
TR Fastenings supplies from its own IATF 16949 as well as from a select range of external suppliers. The International Standard for Automotive Quality Management Systems is based on ISO 9001 and applicable to organisations that manufacture components, assemblies and parts for the supply into the automotive industry.
Early engagement in design
Manufacturers and sub-contractors must work together from the start to ensure the correct Design for Manufacturing (DfM) considerations. When cost-efficiency, sourcing, materials and product lifecycle concerns are discussed early on at the design table; costly delays later on can be avoided.
Looking to the future
The EV sector is a fascinating one to watch as it develops and gains momentum. As the requirement for robust EV charging points grows, the automotive industry continues to innovate with fasteners playing a major role in the electric vehicle revolution.
- International Transport Manufacturer - 'Joined-up thinking: Sven Brehler discusses an often-overlooked part of electric vehicle construction' - Page 32, July 2020
- Engineer Live - 'Joined-up thinking for electric vehicle construction' - 17.07.2020
- Battery Tech Hub - 'Getting a grip on fasteners and their coatings within the transport sector' - 21.07.2020