New Project Looks to Lower Automotive Composite Costs

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation in partnership with DuPont Performance Materials, Fibrtec and Purdue University announces the launch of the first project selected with a dual focus on decreasing the cost of manufacture and increasing design flexibility for automotive composites.

Multiple factors, including cost and design constraints, present barriers to the adoption of composites in high volume automotive applications. The new IACMI project will address both of these critical areas through a fundamentally different approach to the manufacturing of carbon fibre composites versus those currently in use today.

Flexible coated tow manufactured by Fibrtec will be formed into flexible fabric prepregs using a Rapid Fabric Formation (RFF) technology along with a proprietary polyamide resin both by DuPont. The final component will benefit from increased production speeds of the tow manufacturing process and the fabric forming process resulting in a lower cost of manufacture.

Composite parts made by this process have been shown to have low voids and good mechanical properties when consolidated by traditional techniques. The flexible fabric prepregs have also been shown to have good draping behaviour in moulding experiments. Researchers in the Purdue University Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Centre will work with the team to model and validate drapability and part performance.

By leveraging the strengths of all project partners, we have the potential to create a unique commercially viable path to high volume, low-cost thermoplastic composite automotive components.

High cycle time for production of continuous carbon fibre thermoplastic composites increases costs. The use of emerging materials for impregnation and new approaches for tow coating and fabric formation are expected to significantly lower production costs of high volume composites.

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