Textiles play varied roles in the Automotive Industry. Interior textiles are required both to fulfil aesthetic and comfort roles but also need to meet performance criteria, such as sound reduction, durability and abrasion resistance. Whilst being as lightweight as possible and meeting the required health and safety standards such as static reduction and flame resistance. In these roles they are found in the seats, side panels, carpets, parcel shelf’s and roofing.
There are specific safety roles which textiles are given to fulfil in automotives such as seat belts and air bags. Given their roles as potential life savers they are subject to stringent testing methods.
Textiles products also form an intrinsic part of the engine, where they provide air and oil filtration and belts to drive components. They form reinforcement for hoses and for tyres.
Often the textile components used in automotive textiles are composites, ie, a textile component and a non-textile component. Most commonly this consists of a textile set in a resin, such as carbon fibre panels, coated, such as belts, or laminated such as interior panelling. Using a combination of materials allows for the characteristics of each to be exploited to create a product which is superior to the performance provided by a single material.
As figure 1 demonstrates, the transport industry consumes the largest percentage of technical fibres in Western Europe. This large consumption of technical fibres is perhaps most associated with the use of carbon fibre within composites to provide lightweight yet strong components.
The European Unions Observatory nano, 2012 factsheet claims that in the Aerospace, Automotive and transport sectors the all-important challenge is that of CO2 emission reduction, which leads to several key derivative challenges that can be summarized by weight reduction, drive train efficiency gain and electric car battery economics(REF: http://www.observatorynano.eu/project/filesystem/files/ObservatoryNANO%20Factsheets%202012.pdf . Thus the pursuit of composite materials to reduce weight continues to be a area of exploration.
Fig 1. Western Europe’s consumption of technical fibres by application
BIS Business Sectors- Automotives
More than 40 companies manufacture vehicles in the UK – ranging from global volume car makers, van, truck and bus builders, to specialist niche players. The industry is supported by a dynamic supply chain including many of the world’s major component manufacturers, technology providers, design and engineering consultancies; and it benefits from a world-renowned knowledge base.
In the automotive industry, technical textiles are generally recognised to be one of the most dynamic and promising areas for the future of the textile industry for hi-tech and hi-performance applications. Taking the lead among all the functional applications, transport textiles accounts for a significant % of the total technical textiles market share. (Link: http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/business-sectors/automotive )
SMMT Industry Forum
SMMT Industry Forum is a world unique collaboration between international vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers. Created by the motor industry for the motor industry, its aim is to develop and sustain world-leading competitiveness in the UK based vehicle and components industry. Industry Forum has created a number of programmes based around a common approach which enable a company in any part of the supply chain to make real measurable improvements in Quality, Cost and Delivery, while also improving partnership with its customers: www.industryforum.co.uk/
Fibre-based composites are becoming increasingly important in the manufacture of automotive components. These new materials look set to continue their penetration of the automotive sector, and their large-scale use in mass-production cars, trucks and other vehicles is being widely predicted.
Automotive Composites- Textile Media Services
MobileTex- Monthly Newsletter- Textile Media Services
Asian Automotive Textiles
The ObservatoryNANO - supports European policy makers through the provision of wide-ranging scientific and economic analysis of nanoscience and nanotechnology developments, which is further supported by assessment of ethical and societal aspects, impacts on environment, health and safety, as well as developments in regulation and standardisation.
Their sector report on Aerospace, Automotive and Transport, outlines possibilities for the adoption of nanoscience within the sector.