Industry working on composite challenges

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: April 24, 2013 3:55 pm ET
Updated: April 24, 2013 4:03 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Automotive
Companies & Associations Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

DETROIT — The math in favor of using more composites in future North American autos is easy to calculate.

Cutting weight means improving fuel economy — and the U.S. is facing a 2025 deadline to improve the Corporate Average Fuel Economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Every 100 pounds of mass reduction adds up to an estimated 0.2 miles per gallon improvement, noted Saad Abouzahr, head of organic materials for Chrysler Group LLC, during an April 16 discussion about composites at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2013 World Congress in Detroit.

"Eventually, something is going to happen to tip the scale, and lightweighting is playing an important role," he said.

What is not so easy, though, is seeing how the industry will use multiple materials — including thermoset and thermoplastic composites — on high-volume production cars to drastically cut that weight.

"All the [automakers] are having problems addressing production of a multimaterial car," he said.

Although Chrysler, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., is using carbon fiber extensively on the current Viper sports car, it sees that production as a "great learning experience," rather than a specific example of where it will use carbon fiber in the future, Abouzahr noted.

Michael Wiseman, R&D director in the Americas for Honda Motor Co., agreed, noting six "challenge points" that suppliers and automakers must address before composites can become more mainstream for major part production:

• Improve ways to join multiple materials, including plastics and metal, through adhesives or welding.

• Control thermal management issues including creep, warping and deformation of plastic body panels.

• Improve the design community's understanding of ways to use composites.

• Raise production speed for composites, potentially up to one part every minute.

• Reduce and control costs.

• Improve software for simulation and production of composite parts.

The aerospace industry has done some important work on improving pre-production simulation, Wiseman noted, but airplane manufacturers are looking at different factors in their end products. An automaker, for instance, must test for specific crash data and know how body and structural panels would stand up to repeated low-speed bumps.

Until those issues are addressed, more-traditional materials will remain the fallback choice for future development.

"We haven't really seen a lot of follow through that will allow us to make … composites mainstream," Wiseman said. "I think everybody understands that right now the momentum is on the side of traditional steel for body structures."


Comments

Industry working on composite challenges

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: April 24, 2013 3:55 pm ET
Updated: April 24, 2013 4:03 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Visteon in talks to sell its stake in Halla Visteon Climate Control JV

November 26, 2014 9:07 am ET

Visteon Corp. confirmed this morning that it is in discussions with a private equity firm to sell its stake in South Korean joint venture Halla...    More

Image

Canada's Papp Plastics is eyeing big opportunities with JV in Mexico

November 24, 2014 4:11 pm ET

Canadian injection molder and turnkey solution provider Papp Plastics & Distributing Ltd. will open an $11 million to $12 million joint venture...    More

Image

Indiana injection molder PRD expands

November 24, 2014 1:56 pm ET

Automotive supplier PRD Inc. is expanding its manufacturing facility in Springville, Ind.    More

Image

Can plastics return to the driver's seat?

November 24, 2014 6:00 am ET

When the June 1989 issue of Popular Science introduced three cutting-edge automotive technologies, including the latest Corvette and a powerful...    More

Image

New GM purchasing chief faces big hurdles to improve supplier relations

November 24, 2014 11:11 am ET

Steve Kiefer is moving into the eternal hot seat that is head of GM global purchasing and supply chain.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events