6 January 1999

Plastic Modelling Grows Up

Making cars that are glued together, rather than welded, is now possible thanks to a new device that check how well the 'sticky stuff' has set. Using this device, developed from research at NDT Solutions at Keele University, will allow manufacturers to build cars on a production line by gluing them together using a water resistant, rust free adhesive.

Manufacturers usually weld their vehicles together for speed and ease of use. Some manufacturers, including Ford and Jaguar, are currently in pre-production trials using the new testing device. It guides the operator to place the probe exactly in the correct position and evaluates the bond as either a pass or fail using neural networks.

The device sends out ultrasound signals to probe the adhesive bond and analyses the feedback signals to make a decision based on the thickness of the bond and any defects it may detect.

Adhesives are currently used together with other mechanical bonding techniques such as welding. The manufacturers of the device hope that the success demonstrated so far will advance the wider implementation of adhesive bonding technology for the benefit of the customer.