The moment the client drove to our offices and began discussing their project, we knew we were setting out on an exciting journey.

They were a specialist supplier of lightweight parts to the motor industry. And with an understanding of this niche market like no-one else, they had ultra-high expectations.

They began by asking if we could develop a ground breaking super lightweight lining. No problem, we answered, it’s what we do.

But then, as we started to talk around the other things we do with materials, the client leaned forward. What about also building a whole set of advanced technical features into the fabric to complement the design of the vehicle – was that possible?

Never say never, we said. When can we start?

Our track record in developing new products with the ability to meet the most demanding performance requirements is second to none. But it’s our willingness to go into overdrive to pioneer bespoke features for technical applications that truly sets us apart.

The Project

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We worked collaboratively with the client to understand the demands of the application and established the following design spec:

  • Insulate against heat up to 250°F
  • Lightweight up to 45g per m2
  • Flame retardant
  • Provide a barrier to sound and vibration
  • Absorb and retain any oil, dust and volatile gasses
  • Durable and abrasion resistant
  • Black and discreet
  • Thermoformable
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Solution

A critical path was developed to ensure all performance characteristics were met and the client was involved throughout each stage of the development process.

  • We analysed the features and functionality of the existing lining and applied a vast knowledge of lightweight nonwovens to design a concept that combined all of the desirable features.
  • Various densities were supplied to the customer to illustrate the influence on sound suppression, absorption and retention.
  • Fibre blends, coatings and activated carbon impregnation was investigated and trialled in the analysis of the flame retardant and retentive features.
  • Taking the customers feedback into consideration, prototypes were manufactured in three different weights and we identified the best performing and most cost-effective solutions before the client selected the final design specification.
  • A trial run was manufactured and stringently tested in-house to validation protocol before being sent to an external accredited body for compliance testing and certification.

Result

The client was impressed by the scope of manufacturing available to us and the expertise at our disposal, covering a broad range of product technology. This expertise was reflected in a product that surpassed all performance requirements.

The client’s in-house testing revealed a 30% saving on weight when compared to the alternative textile and a 20% reduction in cabin noise when tested against vibration and engine noise.

Today, the product has been launched into the marketplace and approved in a new model for one of the world’s leading automotive brands with a production forecast of more than 500,000 units a year.