Formerly known as Iralco, C&F Automotive is now part of the C&F group and employs 370 staff at the Collinstown site in Co. Westmeath. The company exports aluminium trim to Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) such as Volkswagen, Volvo, Daimler, Porsche and Bentley.
The CREST Gateway has a long collaborative relationship with C&F Automotive. From an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership project CREST and C&F Automotive developed a sol-gel coating technology called Dualion that was applied to the company’s aluminium trim to pass the Volkswagen TL182 performance standard. The Dualion technology was licensed to C&F Automotive and it was subsequently successfully tested by Volvo and Daimler. Trial batches were originally synthesised in Finland by Millidyne, a recognised Sol-Gel manufacturer.
In November 2012 the TL182 standard was revised with UV requirements and the preferred version of Dualion did not meet their full specification. CREST and C&F staff reformulated the Dualion technology within the scope of the existing patent to meet the needs of C&F clients. 2015 saw several variations synthesised with a final preferred technology developed with sufficient scratch and UV resistance. This version was approved by Volvo for Qualification Assessment. To achieve qualification, C&F have to prepare full size parts (length of 1.2-1.4 m) which required new equipment and large volumes. Both CREST and C&F Automotive met with TE labs in Tullow, Co. Carlow and arranged for batch trials to be blended. By September 2015 TE Labs had undertaken blending of 1,000L of the new Dualion Sol-Gel generation for testing by Volvo.
Final trials for C&F with Volvo have been held for securing contracts on their 2017 models. Daimler has also accepted the technology and will be incorporating the Dualion product during 2016.
‘This technology will keep 50 jobs in Ireland and will generate sales of €10 -€20M p.a. at full production” Mike Young, Business Development Manager C&F.