ASC Inc. built its business around producing specialty cars. Now it is introducing two new ways to build those cars.
Its proprietary RIMForm system fine-tunes reaction injection molding. ASC's OmniCarbon, meanwhile, aims to find a better way to process carbon fiber.
RIMForm will be used on fascia parts for DaimlerChrysler AG's SRT8 version of the popular 300 sedan in the spring. OmniCarbon has not sold yet, but ASC is introducing it to automakers now.
The composite processing techniques were used on a pair of ASC concept cars introduced Jan. 9 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
``These are low-volume production methods with the potential for real-world applications,'' said President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wilbur.
ASC makes specialty parts for existing cars, such as components on the SRT line for DaimlerChrysler, and in a few cases complete bodies, as with General Motors Corp.'s SSR sports truck.
The forming systems introduced at the show, and the concept cars they are used on, both seek a sales niche of 5,000-10,000 vehicles produced annually.
The company's GTO Stinger concept could beef up GM's Pontiac GTO sports car with a combination of RIMForm body panels and carbon-fiber details for a rear spoiler, exterior mirror trim and other components.
The proposed Diamondback uses OmniCarbon for everything from the windows up, including the hood, on a version of the SSR.
RIMForm improves ASC's manufacturing capabilities and allows toolmakers to come up with lower-cost molds aimed specifically at the low-volume production numbers ASC works in, said Jeff Steiner, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
The cooperative approach could bring all the tools for the Stinger, for instance, to about $1 million for the entire vehicle, compared with $600,000 or so just for a standard fascia tool, he said.
OmniCarbon, meanwhile, targets reduced processing time for carbon fiber, using thermoforming rather than an autoclave.
``It's still going to be extremely expensive,'' Steiner said.
``The raw material is the same cost as what's going on the [supercars], but we've got to try and get the processing point down so that the time savings can get us down costwise onto a better level.''