Reducing vehicle weight is crucial for reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiency. Magna International and Ford Motor Company have jointly developed a prototype carbon fiber composite subframe which is 34 per cent less in mass compared to a stamped steel equivalent and has 87 per cent less number of parts. The subframe is a key part of a vehicle.
The research and development project between Magna and Ford was meant to investigate potential mass-reduction benefits and technical challenges of using carbon fiber-reinforced composites in chassis applications.
The subframe provides a place to attach the engine and wheels and also contributes towards rigidity and crash management. By replacing 45 steel parts with two molded and four metallic parts, the prototype subframe achieves a dramatic 87 percent reduction in the number of parts. The moldings are joined by adhesive bonding and structural rivets.
The design has passed all performance requirements based on computer-aided engineering analyses. The prototype subframes are now being produced by Magna for component and vehicle-level testing at Ford. The testing phase will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention, which are not currently measured. The project team will also develop a recommended design, manufacturing and assembly process.
"When we are able to work in close partnership with a customer at the beginning of their design and engineering processes, it's an opportunity to bring our full Magna capabilities to bear," said Grahame Burrow, president of Magna Exteriors, at JEC World 2017 in Paris.
Magna's engineering team, a collaborative effort between the company's body and chassis and exteriors product groups, combined its unique, full-vehicle knowledge on the design, materials and processing to address the challenge of reducing weight using composite materials and manufacturing processes.
"Collaboration is the key to success in designing lightweight components that can give our customers fuel economy improvements without compromising ride and handling, durability or safety. We must continue to work hard to achieve these lightweight solutions at the most affordable costs," said Mike Whitens, director of vehicle enterprise systems within Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. (SV)
Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India