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.
The Double-Face concept was developed in co-operation with Matra Automobile Engineering. The project started with the idea of building two cars for a multi-brand manufacturer. Although both ca rs would share as many technical elements as possible, one would be in sheet metal and the other in composite materials, and each would be different in style. The objective: reducing investment costs to serve lower-volume niche markets.
(Published on October-November 2005 – JEC Magazine #20)
The Double-Face project is based on the integration of design, engineering and manufacturing activities, increased process-engineering skills, and more flexible management of the production process.
An innovative project
Pininfarina worked with Matra Automobile Engineering to develop the Double-Face project as a response to a hypothetical situation: A potential client requests the production of two stylistically different car bodies on a single platform. One of the cars is to be made of steel and the other, of composite materials. Furthermore, there must be a sufficiently high degree of carryover to keep investment costs down.
Pininfarina and Matra technicians used visualisation techniques to demonstrate the research results. The solution is to have a system of overhead rails to convey the two different body shells alternately, converging on the chassis and structural elements that are used for both vehicles.
As with all Pininfarina projects, the design, engineering and manufacturing teams worked together on the Double-Face project, while also pursuing their own specific goal.
The design team created two concept vehicles, each for a different purpose.
Both vehicles share the same technical configuration for the 41X4 SUV segment, however, as it is one of the most representative areas in today’s market trends. Their first task was to define the cars using rendering techniques and virtual mathematic CAS models, but they were also responsible for creating and finishing the two body shells.
The engineering team took care of vehicle architecture and the design/production of a chassis that would maximise the use of shared components, in order to reduce both investment costs and the cost of developing the special sections required to p e rmit the use of either steel or composite skins.
The manufacturing team defined potential process and production-volume scenarios and calculated the relative cost of industrialising the Double-Face project.
An unusual scheme
The two models proposed by the Double- Face project are three- door, four- passenger SUVs with front-mounted engines. The proposed designs were in line with the requirement for two stylistically different vehicles for completely different purposes. One SUV is an off-road sport coupe that is dedicated to younger drivers and leisure, to be built with plastic body panels. The other is a more spacious, elegant on-road sedan with more assertive sculpted lines, to be built with steel body panels.
A common platform
The first stage of the project consisted in identifying a suitable concept for a shared platform with dimensions compatible with the type of vehicle that the Pininfarina design team wanted to create. Rather than being limited to the chassis (as is usually the case), the use of shared components was also maximised for the upper part of the vehicle and the whole roof assembly. The great challenge was to design the upper structures of the two cars so they would have different heights and, therefore, clearly different cabin volumes.
This technical solution made it possible to produce both a lower roof that is more streamlined and dynamic, and a higher, more spacious roof using the same windscreen and the same upper and lower cross members. To achieve this, the windscreen frames were designed as single-piece, profiled and curved elements that can be attached to the base of the A-pillar at two diff e rent rakes.
The architecture uses C-pillars that are specific to each car. These connect the common fender and lower body skeletal structures with the roof assembly. A common waistline was used for both vehicles, however. All sections required to p e rmit the use of either steel body skin or hot- cured SMC composite panels were then studied in detail.
A significant niche market
The niche market segment is significant in terms of business and image, as it makes it possible to introduce quality and more diversity in a manufacturer’s vehicle lines.
Another feature of the Double-Face project is the analysis of hypothetical production Another feature of the Double-Face project is the analysis of hypothetical production
Starting with the principal objective in mind (identifying a process that will keep down investment and tooling costs for the manufacture of niche-market volumes), it was decided to use a hybrid assembly line for the body shell, in order to handle both models.
The painting facility is also shared for everything but the processes involving composite material skin components for the off-road model.
Trim-fitting processes will be performed by a main shared finishing line. The line will be fed by two different methods: for the onroad SUV, the cars are conveyed directly from the conventional painting facility to the main finishing line; the off- road version (excluding skin elements) undergoes cataphoresis and priming before being sent to a satellite line, where the composite material skin elements are assembled onto the metal structure. The car is then conveyed to the main finishing line. The system allows two different cars in the same state of assembly to be introduced into the start of the main finishing line. This also makes the line itself less susceptible to any future model variations.