Very light rail crash structure

Aims

Working as part of a consortium, we received an Innovate UK grant to determine the potential of composite materials for structural components in very light rail. Specifically, we aimed to produce a design study and prototype of a lightweight cab crash structure.

Outcomes

Our technology made this project possible. The key achievements were:

  1. Producing a crash structure that:
    • was significantly lighter than the original metal part
    • was cost competitive for full production
    • was easier to repair and inherently recyclable
    • had lower carbon emissions and infrastructure wear.
  2. Proving that beams of over 5m could be manufactured quickly (over a mile a day per shift)
  3. Winning a Global Light Rail Award 2019 and a JEC World Innovation Award 2020 (‘Project Brainstorm’).

Outcomes

Our technology made this project possible. The key achievements were:

  1. Producing a crash structure that:
    • was significantly lighter than the original metal part
    • was cost competitive for full production
    • was easier to repair and inherently recyclable
    • had lower carbon emissions and infrastructure wear.
  2. Proving that beams of over 5m could be manufactured quickly (over a mile a day per shift)
  3. Winning a Global Light Rail Award 2019 and a JEC World Innovation Award 2020 (‘Project Brainstorm’).
"This is what the industry has been waiting for, for decades. I can’t wait to see the first full vehicle."
Judge at Global Light Rail Awards 2019

Other applications

This crash structure was produced from larger diameter structural tubes, beams and poles (up to 200mm diameter and up to 6m long). These can be shaped and joined in many different ways using a thermoplastic welding technique, making them ideal for use in a range of sectors, including transport, infrastructure and marine applications.

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Award-winning

Our technology has been recognised as world-leading. Working with a consortium of other manufacturing companies, we won two global innovation awards for the design of a very light rail carriage:

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