Car makers competing in CFRP race22 August 2011 | By Angela in Allgemein, Automotive Industry, Composite production, Construction Industry, Design, Engineering, Technology
Audi, too, has now joined the race. Following BMW’s deployment of SGL Carbon and Mercedes’ use of Toray, Audi has now entered into a partnership devoted to the development and fully automatic production of carbon fibre-reinforced materials. In the future, Audi’s reputation as a pioneer of lightweight construction will not be based exclusively on its use of aluminium. Vehicles containing the new material will be marketed under the “ultra” label.
In collaboration with the machinery manufacturer Voith, the Audi engineers are setting up the industrial-scale manufacture of fibre-reinforced materials for the series production of cars; their main goal is to develop a fully automatic process chain. With series production their ultimate target, both partners are devoting themselves not only to the creation of processing engineering and mass production methods for conventional fibre-reinforced plastics but also to the development of new and innovative high-tech materials.
To date, Audi has only used CFRPs in its high-priced super sports cars such as the Audi R8 GT Spyder. The long flap of the folding top cover and the large rear side panels of the recently launched 560 PS version of the sports car are made from CFRP. The material is also used in the modified front spoiler, in the fixed rear spoiler and in the new rear bumper. These components account for total weight savings of 5.5 kilograms.
“Low-fat vehicles” featuring fibre composites will also be highlighted at the international Composites Europe (CE) trade fair, to be held from 27 to 29 September 2011 in Essen. The BMW partner SGL Carbon will be there to demonstrate its expertise. The company supplies the carbon fibres for the Megacity Vehicle. This is the first time in which CFRP parts have been used in large-scale series production. This takes the company a step closer to producing affordable lightweight vehicles suitable for mass production based on fibre composites – putting BMW a nose ahead in the technology race. This is shown by the efforts of the rivals who are doing all they can to catch up. Take Audi, for example: it has set up an interdisciplinary carbon fibre research unit at its Neckarsulm plant aimed at adapting the CFRP technology processes for use in series production. The sister marque Lamborghini has also set up a research unit for carbon fibre technologies at the new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) in Sant’Agata Bolognese.