A key barrier to the widespread implementation of composite materials in automobile structures is the traditional relationship of cost/performance. Increased performance generally means increased cost and lower cost usually requires compromise in performance. To date, this relationship has been unfavorable for high volume composite applications. Resin selection offers one avenue of moving away from the traditional cost/performance relationship. New resin systems may allow the designer to achieve sufficient performance at an acceptable cost but there are still compromises which must be made. Not all resin properties are critical to all applications and through an in-depth understanding of performance throughout the range of anticipated component requirements, some non-critical performance areas can be identified.
This paper presents an evaluation of five different types of resin systems and ranks the relative cost and processability. Tensile strength, tensile modulus, poissons ratio, elevated temperature performance, low temperature performance, and environmental resistance will be reported for composite materials made from the test resin systems. Identical reinforcement materials were used and the optimum molding conditions observed.
Although performance and cost targets required by the automotive industry have yet to be met for structural composites, it is hoped that this study will aid in identifying the ultimate cost/performance target and serve as a bench mark for future improvements.