The automotive industry is currently undergoing huge changes – with the introduction of electric vehicles to mainstream buyers and by revolutionising the concept of personal transport.
Nevertheless, with every major leap forward in the industry, there are advancements in the production and design of automotive fasteners since those small but crucial components are what holds the cars together.
While we are all mesmerised by the cars of the future, they wouldn’t be possible without the automotive fasteners of the future…
The automotive fasteners industry is constantly developing and introducing new designs and solutions. With the introduction of electric and hybrid models, the engineering approach changes, and we are facing different types of construction processes, a number of parts and modern materials. By eliminating the whole internal combustion engine with all of its components and pieces, electric vehicles developed the need for a different type of fastener, which could be a more durable and more permanent solution. The electric motors in EV models are not designed to be serviced, at least not as ICE cars are, so fasteners holding those components don’t need to be easily removable or changeable.
The fastener industry has already created several new designs which we can expect to be a standard of the industry soon. Fasteners like lock bolts (which are firmly locked when tightened), blind bolts or wire threaded inserts are all designed to offer better safety, durability and to withstand the higher load. Of course, all of those patents are slightly more complicated than that standard rivets or nut and bolt combo, but they are superior in their performance.
Due to the fact that electric cars have a significant weight problem due to bulky batteries, one of the imperatives of future fasteners is new materials that would be lighter than existing ones. Since the average car has several thousand fasteners, saving just 0.1 gram on each one will result in considerable savings for the finished product. That is why fastener engineers are concentrated on the further development of steel and aluminium alloys for heavy-duty components as well as engineering new types of plastic. There are even some rumours of composite or carbon fibre fasteners that possess incredible strength but also low weight. Although the prospect of carbon fibre fasteners sounds very exciting, we are still relatively far from realisation primarily for two reasons – one is price, and the other is the fact that carbon fibre is brittle, and fasteners generally need to be somewhat flexible in order to fulfil their purpose.
New Supply Strategies
The vehicles of the future will have innovative production processes with minimalised downtimes, fully automated stock management and advanced communication between workstations. In such a production environment, fastener supply (and quality) is an essential aspect. Working closely with the world’s biggest OEM manufacturers, Auto-Fasteners is developing new ways of shortening the time of supply, managing the stock better and creating new kits and assemblies that will reduce the servicing and installation times. Concentrating on the delivery aspect of the fastener industry will help shorten the production times making final products not only cheaper but easier to complete.