Ford has announced it’s entering into a joint venture with carbon fibre manufacturer DowAksa.
The 50/50 joint venture between DowAksa will combine the company’s feedstock capacity, carbon fibre conversion and downstream intermediates production capabilities with Ford’s design, engineering and high-volume manufacturing. The goal is to produce materials that make cost-effective carbon fibre composite parts that are much lighter than steel but meet automotive strength requirements.
,Mike Whitens, director, Vehicle Enterprise Sciences, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering said;
This joint development agreement reinforces Ford’s commitment to our partnership with DowAksa, and our drive to bring carbon fibre components to the broader market. The goal of our work here fits within the company’s Blueprint for Sustainability, where future Ford vehicles will be lighter with optimised performance that would help consumers further improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
Car makers have been slow to start using carbon fibre composites due to the absence of both high-volume manufacturing methods and affordable material formats. This partnership is one of number going on around the work to try and solve these problems and make using these lightweight materials more viable.
The agreement allows the companies to collaboratively generate new, lower-cost automotive grades of carbon fibre that can be applied to aligned and random fibre formats while maintaining compatibility with both thermoset and thermoplastic matrices. The agreement also includes a pathway for potential extension of development collaboration into a commercial manufacturing partnership.
As announced in January, the companies will also be part of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), announced by President Obama as part of the larger National Network for Manufacturing Innovation supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The JDA will facilitate the companies’ efforts in conjunction with IACMI to overcome the high cost and limited availability of carbon fibre in automotive applications.