Creation of Jobs and Expansion of Product Range for Kautex through Industry-Academia Collaboration
Kautex Textron CVS designs and manufactures windscreen washer systems for the automotive industry and is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world in terms of sales volume.
With 31 facilities in 14 countries, Kautex is committed to continued developments and producing new and innovative ways of providing their customers up to date systems and solutions within the automotive industry. Kautex has identified the demand for innovative washer systems that utilise fluidic nozzles to control pressures, the flow of fluid and reduce water usage.
To fulfil this requirement, Kautex historically purchased different fluidic nozzles from a third party supplier since the company did not have the technology or knowledge necessary to be able to design their own nozzles.
Continuing from a series of successful collaborative projects during the 2010 – 2015 funding phase of ASTUTE, Kautex was able to utilise the knowledge gained from the previous projects to develop two of their own nozzle designs. To further increase Kautex’s understanding of the key parameters of the nozzles, a collaborative project on the liquid flow patterns was carried out with ASTUTE 2020.
Kautex have identified further investigations required to gain confidence in the flow characteristics of their fluidic nozzle designs, and determine whether changes should be made to improve flow characteristics before the nozzles are developed into mass-produced products.
The primary aims of this collaborative project were to allow Kautex to gain further knowledge to develop their nozzles into saleable products:
- Analyse flow characteristics of the fluidic nozzles through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).
- Increase understanding of the key parameters of the fluidic nozzles to meet the required characteristics of a specification.
To confirm the performance of Kautex’s nozzle designs, high-speed photography and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis were exploited. Through this combination of experimental and CFD analysis, a scientific understanding of the way the nozzles perform was gained. Kautex was looking for a scientific understanding of how the nozzle performs to allow them to promote and sell it to their customers as part of a new product.
The fluidic nozzles investigated during the project are manufactured by Kautex using an injection moulding process. Injection moulding was used to produce parts for experimental verification of the CFD analysis.
The CFD analysis and high-speed photography have shown that the simulation techniques developed can be used to correctly simulate the oscillation behaviour and the spray angle of the fluidic nozzles.
The combination of simulation and experimental analysis resulted in an increased understanding of the flow behaviour inside fluidic nozzles, particularly a greater understanding of the design features, which control the performance such as the relative width of channels in relation to one another. This increased Kautex’s understanding, allowing suggested modifications on one of the two nozzle geometries being investigated, which allowed the nozzle to produce the required oscillating flow, where the initial version had not produced an oscillating flow.
Experimental analysis of flow from nozzles allowed the identification of differences in performance between two versions of the same nozzle, one produced by stereolithography and the other through injection moulding. Microscopic comparison between nozzles produced by the two techniques resulted in the identification of a number of potential changes required to improve the injection moulding tooling to achieve the required performance.
As a result of the research collaboration Kautex have:
- Developed their own micro fluidic nozzle for a vehicle screen wash system to meet a customer’s specification leading to potential increase in supply to the automotive sector and introducing a new product to the market.
- Additionally, continuing with developments of producing future water-saving nozzles generating environmental benefits.
- Employed two additional staff members, continuing Kautex’s ability to provide worldwide services.