Nissan Speeds CFRP Process
Carbon fiber is at the extreme end of the materials spectrum, offering high rewards at a steep price. The material can cut a part’s mass in half compared with a traditional steel unit. On the downside (and this is a biggie), it can be 10 times as expensive.
That’s not a winning tradeoff for mass-produced vehicles. But a new Nissan process aims to make a better business case for the pricey lightweight material.
Speedy Simulations and Mold Times
The carmaker is developing a faster way to design and produce parts made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP). This in turn could help lower costs to make mainstream applications viable.
Nissan is speeding up CFRP production capabilities. (Images: Nissan)
By using more advanced computer modeling techniques and in-die temperature sensors, Nissan says it’s able to cut development times in half for CFRP parts.
The simulation takes into account more than 20 variables, including the material properties of the carbon fiber and resin. This allows engineers to calculate how the resin will settle during an improved compression-resin-transfer-molding (CRTM) process. Grooves then are cut into the molds to better direct resin flow and optimize a part’s overall material performance properties, according to the carmaker.
Nissan places preformed carbon fiber into the CRTM mold, then injects resin into the die prior to pressing. This reduces cycle times to just two minutes, compared with 10 minutes for conventional methods.
Why it Matters
Faster development and production times will streamline the process and reduce costs.
Nissan aims to use CFRP in structural components within 5 years.
This in turn could enable carmakers to use CFRP to help reduce weight in mainstream vehicles. The material currently is limited to race cars, ultra-luxury models and niche applications.
Nissan plans to begin using CFRP parts made from the process in SUV/crossover vehicles within five years. It lists B-pillars and other structural components among the potential applications.
The high-end automotive CAD/CAM systems do a whole lot more than their name implies. In addition to design and manufacturing, they have the ability to support analysis, product data management, and more.
Designing lighter, stronger and more cost-effective automotive products provides a solid competitive edge to the companies that produce them. Here’s why some are switching their materials from steel to magnesium. (Sponsored Content)
By James Gaffney, Product Engineer, Precision Grinding and Patrick D. Redington, Manager, Precision Grinding Business Unit, Norton Company (Worcester, MA)