Alvant forges partnership with 3M to advance metal matrix composite technology

Synergy will help accelerate development of core technology ultimately enabling engineers to achieve lower weight and increased energy efficiency

Basingstoke – Alvant, a leading specialist in the manufacture of aluminium matrix composites (AMC) materials, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to furthering a strategic partnership with advanced materials technology company 3M to accelerate development of its capabilities and find real world applications.

The focus of the collaboration is on advancing core technology in the areas of electric machines (motor and generator) and lightweight metallic components which require enhanced performance characteristics. Through Alvant’s expertise in the design, development, testing and manufacture of AMC materials and components, the partnership will enable both parties to jointly develop applications which will bring energy and cost-saving benefits to manufacturers and engineers across sectors including automotive and industrial.

Through its research and development activities, Alvant has a world-leading level of understanding of the behaviour and performance of AMCs. Made from a combination of aluminium alloy mixed with particles or long or short fibres, the advanced class of composite materials are known for their commercially appealing, high-strength and low-weight properties. They are suitable for applications where conventional metals are expected to approach or exceed their performance limits.

Under the partnership, applications will be developed using Alvant’s patented Advanced Liquid Pressure Forming (ALPF) process technology and 3M Advanced materials products. ALPF is the method by which Alvant brings together aluminium, which acts as the matrix, and a variety of specialist materials to create a high-performance AMC material.

Recent breakthroughs have now made AMCs an exciting option for designers and engineers looking to achieve increased lightness, stiffness and strength while addressing sustainability. The ability of AMCs to separate the fibres from the aluminium at its end-of-life stage is a major benefit to manufacturers to simplify recycling.

Alvant’s approach complements that of 3M’s, listed as The World’s Most Ethical Company for three successive years, which uses science, technology and collaboration to overcome global challenges and create products across multiple industries which safeguard the environment.

Richard Thompson, commercial director of Alvant, says: “Our long-term relationship with 3M has now evolved into a more recognised partnership acknowledging the synergy in key strategic areas. This paves the way for significant potential opportunity in pioneering materials innovation across many sectors now seeking strong, lightweight solutions while enhancing both operational and environmental performance.

“And the potential benefits of the materials we’re developing doesn’t stop in the automotive or industrial sectors – it also means they will have possible uses in a wide range of engineering applications covering aerospace, energy and industrial process.”

Sean Appleton, regional business leader at 3M, commented: “We are delighted to be working with Alvant to help them develop sustainable and enabling technologies which will provide their customers with a strong competitive advantage within their end markets.”