The MOMA Concept Car and High Cycle CFRP Molding Processes
- The MOMA Concept Car and High Cycle CFRP Molding Processes
Automotive Materials Vol.10 No.2 December 2013 Issue #29
- ※Photographs and diagrams have been omitted for copyright reasons.
Although Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) have been used in a limited number of parts for race cars and some ultra-luxury and luxury vehicles, they have not reached the point of full-scale commercialization.
In recent years, regulations governing greenhouse gas emissions (fuel economy targets) have been tightened, especially in Europe. By 2015 new passenger cars will have to achieve average emissions of no more than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer (fuel economy of at least 19.3 km/l), and manufacturers will incur penalties if these targets are not met. Moreover, these regulations will be further tightened to require emissions of no more than 95 g/km by 2020 and 70 g/km by 2025.
Technologies for improving fuel economy can be grouped into areas such as enhancing engine efficiency and refining drive trains, lightening car bodies and improving aerodynamics, and reducing the rolling resistance of tires. However, to ensure safety in the event of a collision, body sizes have increased as bodies have become lighter, causing overall body weight to rise rather than levelling off.
Japanese steel makers lead the world in technologies for manufacturing thin, lightweight high tensile steel sheets, and alongside producers of materials such as aluminum and plastic they have boosted their efforts to suggest ways for auto makers to reduce body weight using their materials. One area of material development where remarkable advances have been achieved is the use of exterior panels and structural components made from CFRP, which offer high levels of strength and elasticity in the lightest possible form.
For some years now BMW has used CFRP to reduce the weight of roof panels and other parts in its luxury M6 and M3 coupe models. In the fall of 2013, the company launched the i3, a zero-emission vehicle intended for urban use. The i3 was BMW’s first mass-produced electric vehicle, and body weight was a crucial factor in extending its range. The company made extensive use of light and very strong carbon fiber in the i3, and this material harbors the potential to radically alter the outlook for the automotive industry.
Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. has welcomed Challenge Co., Ltd as a partner to reinforce and expand its CFRP business supplying the automotive industry. Challenge combines innovative development capabilities with technical prowess enabling it to meet a diverse range of customer requirements. This partnership has enhanced collaboration between the two companies and achieved a major step forward in midstream and downstream development of CFRP business by accelerating the process from design and development to mass production.
This special feature outlines the MOMA concept car developed by Challenge making extensive use of CFRP and the High Cycle CFRP Molding (Prepreg Compression Molding) process developed by Mitsubishi Rayon.
Mitsubishi Rayon has carried out a wide range of development projects at its Toyohashi Research Laboratories and has more than 40 years’ experience in CFRP molding. Its partnership with Challenge, which has original development capabilities and technical skills enabling it to fulfill diverse customer demands, was a major step forward in the company’s midstream and downstream development of carbon fiber composite materials.
In addition to having a strong track record in autoclave processing, Challenge will achieve a world first when it begins production of automotive components using PCM processing at the end of 2013, and intends to gradually increase its line-up of PCM components.
While considering the possibility of constructing mass-production plants, including overseas plants, for when orders exceed Challenge’s production capacity or for production of low-cost parts, Mitsubishi Rayon intends to conduct business supplying material to tier-1 and tier-2 partners and supporting them with molding process packages.
Both companies will position Challenge as Mitsubishi Rayon’s development and production base for CFRP parts and actively strive to expand orders for automotive CFRP components.
They also aim to pursue technologies currently under development, including carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) materials and other processing methods suited to mass production (Figure 5).
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- Photographs and diagrams have been omitted for copyright reasons.