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Ford and DowAksa to develop high-volume manufacturing techniques for automotive

News International-French

28 Jan 2015

Companies accelerate carbon fiber research to drive innovation in manufacturing technology for automotive-grade carbon fiber, aiming to make vehicles lighter for greater fuel efficiency, performance and capability.

The companies will be part of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, created by the U.S. government. The institute is part of National Network for Manufacturing Innovation supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The mission of the institute and the goal of Ford’s collaboration with DowAksa – a 50/50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.Ş. – is to overcome the high cost and limited availability of carbon fiber, while developing a viable, high-volume manufacturing process. Ford and Dow Chemical began working together in 2012 to develop low-cost, high-volume carbon fiber composites.

Ford’s expertise in high-volume manufacturing, design and engineering complements DowAksa’s strength in producing materials that make up carbon composites to create parts much lighter than steel components but with no loss of strength.

Carbon fiber composites have been used in aircraft and racing cars for decades because they provide high strength with extremely low weight. It is possible to tailor strength properties to a specific component – making it as stiff or flexible as needed for a given application.

Creating lighter vehicles is a major part of Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Current products that apply a light-weighting philosophy include Fiesta – which uses high-strength, lightweight boron steel. The all-new 2015 Ford F-150 uses high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy to help reduce overall weight by up to 700 pounds – returning an EPA-estimated 5 percent to 29 percent better fuel economy, depending on engine and driveline configuration on the combined cycle, along with best-in-class payload and tow ratings.

The Ford Lightweight Concept Fusion applied such lightweight materials as aluminum, high-strength steel, magnesium, composites and carbon fiber to nearly every vehicle system to reduce the car’s weight to that of a Fiesta – a near 25 percent cut. Learnings from this concept can springboard light-weighting technologies to a much larger scale of production.

Ford and DowAksa also are working together to reduce the energy needed to produce carbon fiber components, cut the cost of raw materials and develop recycling processes.

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