Material manufacturers are increasingly finding new ways to combine the benefits of composites with the need for high volume production that the automotive market demands. Reinforced Plastics reports on these and some other new developments for the automotive sector.
A number of composite suppliers have developed new materials that are meeting the requirements of the automotive industry for lightweight yet structurally strong parts, but ones that can be produced commercially in high volume manufacturing situations. Dow Automotive Systems has developed VORAFUSE™ epoxy intermediates for prepreg applications, which combine epoxy resin with carbon fibers from DowAksa for improved handling and rapid cycle times for compression molding of composite parts for structural applications. The company says that it has been designed to meet growing demand in the automotive industry for lightweight materials that can be processed commercially.
VORAFUSE is designed to work in processes like compression molding to achieve fast cycle times. It can be cured in 2–5 min for high volume manufacturing and can be used to enable automated manufacturing solutions. Epoxy-fiber composites offer competitive strength and stiffness at much lower density, enabling the production of components that can function well with traditional metal parts in a hybrid construction. Potential applications for VORAFUSE are structural applications which require strength, stiffness and lightweight construction such as door inners, hood inners, A, B, C pillars, and roof rails.