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Ford Europe Developing Mass Produced CFRP Components

If carbon fiber could be made cheap enough, it might revolutionize automotive design and weight

During the Composites Europe exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany, FordFordFordUnited States of America, 1903 > present92 models
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is showing a very normal looking Ford FocusFocus Gen.3 [III]Ford Focus Gen.3 [III]United States of America, 2012 > present10 versions
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that might change the company. Ford Europe and Dow Automotive Systems have been developing carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) components that are cheaper and more easily mass produced than current carbon fiber panels. 

The CFRP hood on the Focus weighs 50% less than the standard steel version used on the current Focus, but the real breakthrough is that it can be made fast enough to be used on Ford's production line. The hood shown on the Focus is five times stronger and twice as stiff as the steel version.

“It’s no secret that reducing a vehicle’s weight can deliver major benefits for fuel consumption, but a process for fast and affordable production of carbon fibre automotive parts in large numbers has never been available,” said Inga Wehmeyer, advanced materials and processes research engineer at Ford European Research Centre.

Ford and Dow are continuing to develop the process of using carbon fiber and CFRP components for mass produced cars. They want to bring prices down and increase the production rate. Ford believes that it could reduce automotive weight by 340kg per vehicle by the end of the decade if this technology continues to develop as it has. 

The process that the company's developed uses a pre-formed carbon fiber textile impregnated by a hardening resin. Then two layers of CFRP sandwiched between a foam core. 

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