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Continental Structural Plastics
Continental Structural Plastics Wins JEC Innovation Award
AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a specialist in vehicle light-weighting technologies, received the JEC World 2016 Innovation Award in the Automotive Exterior Parts category for its multi-material deck lid concept. The deck lid, featuring a TCA Ultra Lite™ outer and a carbon fiber resin transfer molded (RTM) inner, weighs just 12.11 lbs. (5.5 kg.), a 13 percent weight saving over a similar deck lid made from aluminum.
Multi-material deck lid concept demonstrates weight savings, reduced cycle times
A multi-national team created the winning deck lid. It arose from a collaboration of the CSP R&D teams in Auburn Hills, Mich., and Pouance, France, with support from partners at Owens Corning, Compose Tooling Expert, Altair Engineering, PPE, Hexion, and Brandolph. It was developed as part of a study to compare the weight of deck lids made from steel or aluminum versus a multi-material approach. Also key was reducing the cycle time associated with the use of carbon fiber.
“We continue to prove that when you’re willing to think outside the box, the light-weighting possibilities with composites and carbon fiber can be endless,” said CSP Chairman and CEO Frank Macher, in a company release. “Our engineering and R&D teams continue to push the envelope, reaffirming that CSP is the world leader in light-weighting technologies.”
Created in 1998, the JEC World Innovation Awards identify, promote, and reward the most innovate composite solutions in the world. The selection criteria include technical excellence, exemplarity of the chain of partners, market potential, and originality.
The importance of this award is that CSP can use this material and process to take design data and provide an OEM with a functional prototype part in a significantly reduced timeframe than what is currently customary, CSP reported.
In addition, the infusion tool used to create functional prototypes was developed and produced using 3D printing. The entire process can be completed in 2-3 weeks. Finally, to further reduce costs and control quality, CSP is developing a process to manufacture its own carbon fiber mat using various carbon fiber content.
“This deck lid is the result of CSP’s on-going effort to work with OEM and supplier partners to achieve even greater weight savings with cost-competitive materials,” said Philippe Bonte, president of CSP’s European operations, in the release. “This comes on the heels of CSP’s successful launch of TCA Ultra Lite, currently used for 21 body panel assemblies on the Chevrolet C7 Corvette.”
The carbon fiber RTM structural inner component represents a number of breakthroughs in the use of recycled carbon fiber materials for cost-effective mass production applications, CSP reported. Using preformed carbon fiber mats infused with a Hexion fast-cure, epoxy-based resin played a key role in CSP being able to successfully reduce the cycle time associated with high carbon fiber content RTM. From injection time to cure to completion, the total cycle time for this component is 2.5 to 3 minutes.
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