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Prodrive develops carbon manufacturing process for luxury vehicles

News International-French

23 Jan 2014

A new process from the company will make carbon composite components easier to incorporate into premium and luxury vehicles. 

Features normally added in a separate operation, such as clips and inserts for threaded fasteners, can now be moulded directly onto the back of high quality composite panels, producing a more cost-effective part than a conventional bonded assembly, and one with greater mechanical strength. Already producing parts for the first two production applications, both premium automotive cars, the process removes a major barrier to the wider use of composites.

“One of the challenges of using carbon composite panels is the provision of fastenings for their attachment, which can lead to costly, intricate components,” explained Prodrive Composites engineering manager, Gary White. “Conventional solutions involve creating a complex carbon shape to carry the fittings. By moulding onto the finished composite, we can match the convenience of an injection-moulded plastic part at a fraction of the cost, while providing the low weight, strength and superb display surface of carbon.”

In most automotive applications, Prodrive supplies the vehicle manufacturer directly, satisfying rigorous quality demands, especially for prominent interior surfaces. “Our customers are seeking cosmetic perfection on all exposed surfaces, backed by a number of environmental and climatic tests to ensure durability even in the most demanding climates,” said White. “Parts made using our new process have passed the full range of OEM tests and we are now ramping up to supply production vehicles.”

Innovations by Prodrive, such as this new moulding process, combined with the company’s proven quality and expertise in design and analysis, has led to a strong and sustained growth in its composites business.

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