Tech Watch/April 2017
McLaren's Homemade Carbon
Performance icon McLaren Automotive built its first carbon fiber chassis in 1993 for the McLaren F1, and every year since it’s been the material of choice. Now those inner structures will be forged locally in the UK, instead of through supplier Carbo Tech, based in Austria.
McLaren will break ground later this year on a new Composites Technology Centre near the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC; amrc.co.uk). After its completion in 2020, the facility will employ 200 workers to develop and produce the Monocell chassis (a single piece carbon fiber chassis as found in its Super Series models, such as the 650S) and the Monocage chassis (or single shell, as found in the 570S). In the meantime, the carmaker says it will work with the AMRC to develop new automated manufacturing techniques to produce the next generation Monocell chassis for near-future McLaren cars. Those techniques will be adopted when the center goes online into full production in 2020.
By “in-sourcing” carbon fiber production, McLaren expects to save around £10-million ($12.5-million) compared to today’s costs.