Browse Publications Technical Papers 2002-01-1121
2002-03-04

Development of a Carbon Fibre Composite Ultra Lightweight Vehicle Structure for the Aero-Stable Carbon Car - Fastframes 2002-01-1121

The Aero-stable Carbon Car (ASCC) was the first full vehicle structure project of the UK government DTI program ‘Foresight Vehicle’. The project investigated the limitations to maximising fuel economy in a lightweight car manufactured in carbon fibre composite (CFC). The EPSRC Integrated Manufacturing initiative / industry funded project FastFrames is developing design understanding and materials / manufacturing technology for lightweight vehicle structure and components.
Current lightweight composite vehicles such as racing cars use a monocoque, stressed skin design approach for both weight and manufacturing cost reasons. For passenger cars with large ‘cut-out’ areas for access, the approach of a space-frame supporting fairing panels offers the opportunity for a more efficient structure. It also offers the potential to incorporate localised loads from suspension, engine and door mounting, seats and seat belts more easily than for a thin section stressed skin approach. Manufacturing the space frame using carbon fibre composite materials provides a very lightweight structure. With current manufacturing approaches, the problems of labour cost for material lay up and bonding sections preclude the use of the framework approach. For this project a novel design and materials approach was conceived and developed. The approach uses a novel form of textile preform laminated to form a single piece integrated frame structure. Lightweight panels are bonded to the assembled frame after systems fitting. The approach should result in a total body weight of 125 kg, which compares to around 320 kg for a similar size steel car.

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