Composites

2018-03-09

Dow Technology recognized with 2018 JEC Innovation Award

2018 JEC Innovation Award win acknowledges reality for mass production of torsionally-rigid components for automotive rear wall structures

The new carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) rear wall structure developed for the Audi A8 and powered by Dow has won the JEC Innovation Award in the Automotive Process Category. AUDI AG, in collaboration with Voith Composites GmbH, The Dow Chemical Company and ZOLTEK Corp., developed a CFRP rear wall structure suitable for fully-automated serial production with capacity for more than 300 parts per day. 

“For the first time, the full potential of CFRP can be used in high-volume production thanks to innovative and cost-efficient production technologies,” said Martin Reimers, composites market manager at Dow. “Epoxy resins and composite bonding adhesives from Dow were key enablers for this project and we were happy to work together with Audi and the other partners to realize the success.”

VORAFORCE™ epoxy resin was injected into a carbon fiber preform through a resin transfer molding process. Ultra-low viscosity enabled manufacturing of the large, complex part with the ability to integrate added functions. Cure times less than 120 seconds and excellent mold release capability provided through an internal mold release additive, ensured mass production capacity.

BETAFORCE™ composite bonding adhesives used for sub-assembly of the structure as well as part mounting into the body structure, helped retain the integrity of the part by improving torsional stiffness and crash performance.

The CFRP rear wall structure of the new Audi A8 – that can be viewed at Hall 5, Stand E42 - weighs 50 percent less than the previous generation and increases torsional rigidity by up to 24 percent which improves safety and crash behavior, reduces noise and vibration, optimizes driving and handling characteristics and also extends vehicle life through higher durability.

Collaboration is essential to drive innovation. This success opens a new avenue for CFRP as a viable consideration for lightweight material selection for high-volume automotive manufacturing.

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