Dow Automotive Systems of Auburn, Mich., won in the engineering plastics and composites, metals and alloys category. Its Vorafuse-brand P6300 epoxy intermediates enables the use of aligned carbon fiber and epoxy resin chemistry to produce structural automotive components.
Such use of fabric-based preimpregnated material for high-volume applications “has never been achieved,” Dow said in its entry form.
P6300 delivers novel chemistry that has tack-free haptics for automated handling, room-temperature shelf stability, automated fast-performing Snap-style curing, ultra-fast part processing and the ability to recycle in-plant prepreg scrap.
Typically, for comparison, the aerospace industry utilizes prepreg that is not self-stable and uses slow autoclave-based processes.
Dow said it scaled Vorafuse P6300 to commercial metrics for viable manufacturing rates in three projects each involving production of 3,280 linear feet of prepreg to demonstrate process automation and ultra-fast processing capabilities.
Molded part configurations included flat plaques, double dome moldings and, ultimately in a Ford Fusion demonstrator vehicle, a B-pillar insert replacing steel and deemed suitable for high-volume automotive applications. The B-pillar change showed a saving of 13.2 pounds of mass per vehicle with no apparent sacrifice in performance.