In the E-Tric Tracks research project, ArcelorMittal and the engineering company Segula Technologies have jointly developed a process for the functional coating of carrier materials such as the sheet metal of vehicle bodies. The technology is based on a very thin layer of conductive ink that is incorporated between several protective layers. The coating has a thickness of less than 100 µm and a width of up to 20 mm. Printed on a deformable metal substrate, this multilayer coating maintains electrical current along the entire length of the conductive tracks. It withstands high ignition voltages and meets normal operating temperature requirements. As a result, this technology is also compatible with the cataphoresis bath.
The process can be used to supply power to various electrical systems in a vehicle, including, for example, interior lighting such as ceiling lights or LED rearview mirrors.
With its innovation, Segula is primarily targeting players in the e-mobility sector, including the automotive, railway, marine and aerospace industries. However, the technology is also interesting for all applications where low voltage is used, such as household appliances.
Manufacturers also get added value to their industrial performance from an environmental point of view, as in fact 50% of cable bundles could be replaced by this new technology with tangible benefits. In particular, Segula promises a 20% weight reduction in cable bundles while increasing the useful volume (i.e. less fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions). Another benefit is that cable harness and vehicle manufacturers thus need fewer components, reducing the consumption of copper. Furthermore, the technology reduces the assembly effort, and last but not least, the coating technology has a lowering influence on the cost price by reducing storage and assembly areas.
The E-Tric Tracks research project started in 2016 and is now the subject of a joint international patent application, according to Segula.