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URT Group delivers carbon composite automotive body panels

News International-French

8 Oct 2014

The company has made further strides into composites production for the automotive sector, with the recent delivery of carbon composite body panels to a number of automotive manufacturers.

The composite body panel technique enables URT to provide an economical, robust system for a range of higher volume automotive body panel applications.

Annual growth for carbon fibre in the automotive sector is predicted to grow by approximately 34% by 2020, as legislation makes reducing the weight of vehicles increasingly more important. Carbon composite body panel systems are now widely used in the automotive industry, particularly in the manufacturing of low output prestige models and electric vehicles, where vehicle weight and performance are imperative.

Composite body panels have numerous advantages for automotive applications. In particular, the moulding process produces a Class A surface finish which is extremely important to prestige car manufacturers. Carbon composites offer excellent structural integrity, while their light weight reduces vehicle mass, thereby enhancing power-to-weight ratio and performance. From a design perspective, carbon composites offer design and styling flexibility and do not restrict the form, shape or size of the body panels.

URT has developed production processes in collaboration with its material suppliers, to ensure the best possible surface finish for premium automotive body panels and components. The process fuses one ply of resin-backed glass fibre and partially impregnated carbon fibre with one ply of syntactic resin film, backed with partially impregnated carbon fibre. The materials are applied to the mould dry and then cured, which impregnates both plies and fuses the fibres together. The panels are then trimmed, either by hand or using CNC machining for higher volume projects, and inspected to ensure geometrical accuracy and adherence to quality standards.

URT’s technique offers great repeatability and versatility: the material can be processed in- or out-of-autoclave, and either metal or composite tools can be used, depending on the required production volume and process control requirements.

With the projected increase in the use of composites for automotive applications, URT’s expertise in carbon composite body panel systems will enable the company to capitalise on increased demand now and in the future.

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