Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0773
2020-04-14

Development of an Epoxy Carbon Fiber Reinforced Roof Frame Using the High Pressure Resin Transfer Molding (HP-RTM) Process 2020-01-0773

Composites technology for the automotive market continues to advance rapidly. Increasing knowledge of composite design, simulation tools, new materials and process equipment are all contributing to make composites better performing and more affordable for mass-produced vehicles. In particular, the high pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) and related liquid compression molding (LCM) processes are enabling manufacturers to produce complex composite parts at shorter and shorter cycle times.
This paper describes the development of an epoxy carbon fiber roof frame targeted for future vehicle production. Several composite processes were considered for the roof frame. The case illustrates that when the (product) design, material and process are considered together, a high-performing, cost-efficient part can be produced. The resulting carbon fiber roof frame met all OEM performance requirements and economic targets while weighing 44% less than the original design in magnesium and 32% less on the overall assembly. The part was the first HP-RTM part successfully demonstrated in North America and stands as a model for future lightweighting developments.
Of equal significance, the development process for the part involved a unique collaboration of companies throughout the automotive composites value chain. Each company contributed their particular expertise to the project including resin technology, reinforcement solutions, engineering analysis, process simulation, tool construction, preforms and molding. The collaboration enhanced the speed and technical success of the overall development.

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