Composite oil pan is thermoplastic fantastic for Nifco

Erika Marshall     31st August 2016

PLASTIC car parts manufacturer Nifco UK has released details of a cutting-edge new product, designed as part of the Jaguar Land Rover ALIVE6 Project with government funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

The North East based manufacturer – part of global brand Nifco Inc – has shared details of its innovative new oil pan that is built to be stronger and lighter than any of its steel counterparts.  The thermoplastic composite part weighs in at 1kg less than a steel equivalent, and has been engineered with continuous glass fibres that are infinitely longer than those used in normal reinforced plastics, to deliver optimum performance while remaining lightweight.

The part is one of the outcomes of the Jaguar Land Rover ALIVE6 project, which was launched last year, to create a prototype engine incorporating many new and cutting edge technologies.  The project involves nine work packages being delivered, each designed to unlock the potential of UK supply chain businesses, enabling them to access funding to support with the research and development of new products that help with light-weighting and improved fuel economy.

Mike Matthews, managing director of Nifco UK, said: “Metal was once considered to be the only material resilient and heat resistant enough to withstand the loads within a car engine, but with new technology comes the opportunity to create ever-more effective and efficient products.

“Nifco has invested heavily in R&D facilities and equipment, at a cost of many thousands of pounds, and we believe that our role as a Tier One supplier is to proactively support OEMs to make the most efficient cars possible.  Getting involved in this project has given us a means of accessing support to create a product that has the potential to be in every car made in this country in the future.  It’s been a great opportunity for us.”

The JLR ALIVE6 project is worth more than £20million and JLR and the Government hope that the technologies demonstrated as part of the project will lead to lighter and more fuel efficient powertrains in the near future.

Nifco has worked in partnership with plastics supplier DuPont to create the new part, and it hopes to see the part produced in mass use over the next few years.

Anthony Loth, program leader at DuPont commented: “This is a major success for a new material and a new technology that has been possible through our selected partnership with Nifco becoming an innovative leader on this oil pan market. We believe VizilonTM lightweighting solution will thrive in the future composite oil pan business’’. Mr. Craig Norrey, DuPont Global Technical Programs manager for Vizilon™ application developments, also commented that a large part of the program’s success was down to the close team work demonstrated by the Nifco and DuPont people. Involving product designers with material and processing specialists from the outset is key to successfully replacing metal with new materials.

Mr Matthews added: “We have worked very closely with DuPont to adjust the design and optimize the process to answer the cycle time requirements of the mass series production. This part has been developed using its Vizilon™ product line, including a thermoplastic composite and specific overmoulding resin. We are proud that this collaboration has produced a part that we know will add real value for our customers.”

“We have committed two members of staff to this project, on a full time basis, and many other members of the team have contributed to its development, so it’s fantastic to see this project making fantastic progress.”

To find out more about Nifco, visit

To find out more about Vizilon™, visit