The future of thermoplastics in the automotive industry: Challenges of Large Scale Production - Part 3 of 5
The challenges of large scale production
One of the great challenges of using CFRP in mass production is reducing the
manufacturing time for individual parts. Using the example again of a Formula One car, the design and manufacture cycle of each part is estimated at eight weeks. Clearly a high-end design like this has no place in the world of large scale production where the manufacturing cycle needs to be considerably shorter.
Research carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT has shown
that the cycle time to produce parts from thermoset composites is often twenty minutes or
more, which in the real world of car production is simply too long. Engineers at the institute have developed a process of Thermoplastic Resin Transfer Molding (T-RTM) which reduces the manufacturing cycle to around five minutes, and makes it possible to manufacture up to 100,000 parts per year. The process will be discussed in the next section, along with some of the other new technologies in manufacturing.
New process technology
Developing the processes to enable grand scale production has been part of the ongoing
challenge for car manufacturers for several years. There are several methods of
manufacturing composites, and variants on the process within each method. Below we look at some of the more prominent processes that may be used in the automotive industry. Research and development is ongoing in each of these areas, both in terms of improving the manufacturing process to achieve the quality of product which meets crash safety standards, and to facilitate mass production.
This article is part of our series on thermoplastics