JEC Group have brought together the international community of composites leaders and executives in our Composites Circle as an unique networking opportunity to meet with both peers and future partners.
Carbon-fibre-reinforced composites are no longer limited to aerospace and racing car applications. The new Mercedes Silberpfeil (Silver Arrow) is equipped with a rear scuttle panel made of Menzolit’s AdvancedSMC.
(Published on August-September 2005 – JEC Magazine #19)
Just about all major OEMs have carried out carbon-fibrereinforced composite programmes in order to reduce the weight of their vehicles. Low weight leads to better performance and improved efficiency. The limiting factor has been that such composites require costly process technologies, which are not suitable for applications in the range of tens of thousands. The real breakthrough could happen only if the material were moulded in a process corresponding to standard SMC mouldings. In order to meet this challenge, a new material trade named Menzolit AdvancedSMC has been developed. AdvancedSMC combines the high-performance properties of carbon fibres with the low manufacturing costs of SMC. It can be moulded similar to standard SMC, using heated steel moulds and hydraulic presses.
Developing AdvancedSMC technology was a joint project between Menzolit-Fibron GmbH, DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG. With this technology, AdvancedSMC can be moulded practically waste free (a decisive factor considering the high price of carbon fibre!). The material shows good flow characteristics, making intricate shapes possible – as is the case with the scuttle panel. It cures as fast as SMC (cycle time below three minutes) and allows for wall thicknesses below 1.5mm. It is already used to produce body and interior parts for the 2004 SLR McLaren-Mercedes, including a semi-structural scuttle panel.
AdvancedSMC is a cross-linked thermoset composite. As such, it significantly exceeds the properties of standard glass-fibre-reinforced SMC (higher modulus and lower specific gravity). Compared with sheet metal (steel) panels, a weight saving up to 60% is possible, based on equivalent flexural stiffness. Components made of AdvancedSMC are even lighter than the same panels made of aluminium.
The mechanical properties of the material are just a little below those of high-performance composites used in aviation. The parts have remarkable painting and baking properties, in addition to excellent surface finish and crash-test behaviour.