At the Composites Pavilion, IACMI showcased the first large injection moulded automotive prototype made with low-cost textile-grade carbon fibre, said a media statement by IACMI. Produced by IACMI members TechmerPM, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Michigan State University (MSU), this innovative production approach yields an estimated cost savings of 40-50 per cent compared to a 50,000 filament tow commercial counterpart. The textile carbon fibre was produced by ORNL at the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF). TechmerPM addressed unique compounding challenges to provide pellets of PA66, a commonly used thermoplastic nylon, reinforced with 25 per cent of the textile carbon fibre. MSU tuned the moulding parameters for the unique compound and produced full-size fenders through injection moulding at the IACMI Scale-Up Research Facility (SURF) which is managed and operated by IACMI partner, MEDC. Through this collaborative effort, textile carbon fibre was injection moulded using the Milacron 3,000-ton injection press and at cycle times relevant for high-volume production. Additional trials have demonstrated the versatility of using different fibre content, including fenders with 10 per cent and 45 per cent carbon fibre content.
While traditional carbon fibre composites have long been touted for their weight savings in stiffness-critical automotive applications including automotive bodies, b-pillars, and other structural components, the implementation of textile carbon fibre makes these applications more cost-competitive with traditional, heavier materials. Textile carbon fibre has potential for significant impact in the automotive industry because of the reduced cost for supporting weight savings opportunities.
“The availability of textile carbon fibre opens new opportunities for lightweighting and design innovation in the automotive industry and we are excited to be part of the JEC Group’s Composites Pavilion to showcase this material in a moulded part,” said IACMI CEO, John A Hopkins. “We are proud of this first-of-its-kind validation of technologies and look forward to seeing future implementation in automotive and other applications.”
“The joint facility for IACMI and LIFT offers a unique opportunity to further lightweighting in the automotive industry through multi-material innovations,” said MEDC CEO, Jeff Mason. “The research done by both institutes further solidifies Michigan’s leadership in the future of the automotive industry. The innovations validated through IACMI’s textile carbon fibre project shows the attainable potential for integrating carbon fibre into the automotive industry to increase strength and stiffness in automotive components at competitive cost.”
IACMI – The Composites Institute, a national public private partnership comprised of 160+ members, is committed to increasing domestic production capacity and manufacturing jobs across the US composites industry. (PC)
Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India