Continental Structural Plastics’ Lightweight, Multi-Material Decklid Innovation Earns the CAMX Combined Strength Award
Auburn Hills, Michigan – September 28, 2016 — For the second year in a row, the CAMX Steering Committee has recognized Continental Structural Plastics (CSP) for its composite materials innovation. This year, CSP received the Combined Strength Award for its multi-material decklid concept. This lightweight decklid, featuring a TCA Ultra Lite® outer and a carbon fiber resin transfer molded (RTM) inner, weighs just 12.11 lbs. (5.5 kg.), a 13 percent weight savings over a similar decklid made from aluminum.
The winning decklid concept was collaborated by the CSP R&D teams in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and Pouance, France, with support from partners at Owens Corning, Compose Tooling Expert, Altair Engineering, PPE, Hexion and Brandolph. It was developed as part of a study to compare the weight of decklids made from steel or aluminum versus a multi-material approach. Also key was reducing the cycle time associated with the use of carbon fiber.
“This award further demonstrates that when you’re willing to continually challenge the status quo, anything is possible when it comes to lightweighting with composites,” said Frank Macher, chairman and CEO of Continental Structural Plastics. “Our teams are already taking the concepts proven out with this decklid and pushing them to the next level as part of our on-going efforts to bring the most innovative lightweighting applications to market for our customers.”
The CAMX Combined Strength Award is presented to the composites product that clearly demonstrates a team approach and effort that brings together knowledge, resources and talent to produce an incredible example of the best use of composites materials that solves a problem. The CSP entry was selected from 11 finalists for the award, which was presented at the Opening General Session of the annual CAMX Expo.
In 2015, CSP’s TCA Ultra Lite material, which is a key component in the lightweight decklid concept, received the CAMX Unsurpassed Innovation Award. Earlier this year, this decklid concept was awarded the JEC World 2016 Innovation Award in the Automotive Exterior Parts category at the JEC Composites Show in Paris.
Reducing Carbon Fiber Cycle Times
The carbon fiber RTM structural inner component of the decklid concept represents a number of breakthroughs in the use of recycled carbon fiber materials for cost-effective mass production applications. Using preformed carbon fiber mats infused with a Hexion fast-cure, epoxy-based resin played a key role in CSP being able to successfully reduce the cycle time associated with high carbon fiber content RTM. From injection time to cure to completion, the total cycle time for this component is 2.5 to 3 minutes.
TCA Ultra Lite = Lighter, Stronger Parts
Because there is no degradation of mechanical properties, lighter parts molded with TCA Ultra Lite do not have to be made thicker, or incorporate structural reinforcements, to maintain the desired performance qualities. Specifically, Ultra Lite technology uses treated glass bubbles to replace Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), allowing the resin to adhere to the matrix and increase the interfacial strength between the bubble and the resin. This is a patented treatment technology that results in a more robust resin mix that makes molded parts more resistant to handling damage, and prevents the micro-cracks that cause paint pops, pits and blistering.
TCA Ultra Lite offers automakers an opportunity to achieve a Class A finish with a material that is resistant to corrosion, dents and dings, ultimately providing the consumer with a vehicle that doesn’t rust, and won’t be subject to the scratches and dings that mar the surface of any vehicle panel made of metal. In addition, TCA Ultra Lite provides the benefits that come with using a composite over a metal, including significantly reduced tooling costs (50 percent or more, depending on production volumes) and the ability to achieve unique design cues such as deep draws that can’t be achieved with a stamped metal.
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About Continental Structural Plastics
For more than 40 years, Continental Structural Plastics has provided leading-edge technologies in lightweight materials and composite solutions for the automotive, heavy truck, HVAC and construction industries. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, CSP provides full-service engineering support, and holds more than 50 patents covering materials development and manufacturing processes in composite materials formulation, design and manufacturing technologies. The company has operations on three continents and has more than 3,200 employees. For more information, visit www.cspplastics.com.