2006 Corvette Z06 Carbon Fiber Fender- Engineering, Design, and Material Selection Considerations 2005-01-0468
General Motor's Corvette product engineering was given the challenge to find mass reduction opportunities on the painted body panels of the C6 Z06 through the utilization of carbon fiber reinforced composites (CFRC). The successful implementation of a carbon fiber hood on the 2004 C5 Commemorative Edition Z06 Corvette was the springboard for Corvette Team's appetite for a more extensive application of CFRC on the C6 Z06 model. Fenders were identified as the best application for the technology given their location on the front of the vehicle and the amount of mass saved.
The C6 Z06 CFRC fenders provide 6kg reduction of vehicle mass as compared to the smaller RRIM fenders used on the Coupe and Convertible models. The strength, stiffness and manufacturing flexibility of the CFRF technology allowed for the elimination or simplification of several components required on the Coupe and Convertible style fenders, further reducing required tooling investment, mass and build complexity for the Z06 model. FEA analysis was used to ensure that all structural requirements were achieved. Extensive study was given to the selection of the specific carbon fiber epoxy pre-preg material to be utilized for the production. The material selection study investigated several factors that optimize the balance between material cost, conformability, labor time, finishing, and ability to achieve a high quality painted surface finish that is operationally transparent to the General Motor's Bowling Green Assembly paint process. The result is the highest yearly volume of carbon fiber content in the automotive industry whether measured by vehicles/year or pounds material used/year.