Title: NOVEL PREPREG TECHNOLOGY FOR HIGH VOLUME MANUFACTURING
Abstract: The pressure for increased fuel economy and low CO2 emissions for automotive vehicles continues. In order to satisfy requirements, lighter vehicles will need to be manufactured making it necessary to replace metals in structural components with lightweight materials such as carbon fiber composites. The challenge associated with implementation of carbon fiber composites is to make them cost effective for high volume production because historically this class of materials was designed for low volume production scenarios. In order to apply carbon fiber prepreg derivatives to high volume automotive applications, the material must be modified so it can be robotically handled, designed to avoid costly inefficiencies while utilizing existing processing equipment.
This paper describes a new material and novel state of the art compression molding that deliver the processing speed required for mass production. A relevant high volume example based on a structural B-pillar insert for a high volume automotive application replacing steel is presented as a working example. Critical performance criteria for the B-pillar are identified in concert with critical part design and performance testing that was required to achieve processing speed and mechanical performance goals. A novel prepreg developed to enable high volume production is presented along with the processing strategy required to achieve less than 3 minute part to part cycle time with substantial utilization of existing process equipment.
Authors: Dave H. Bank, Allan James, Patrick J. Blanchard, Jason R. Reese, Richard E. Baumer, Bharti Balijepalli, Liangkai Ma, Jeff Dahl
Conference: CAMX 2017 –Orlando