19in a timely manner. The analysis in this study will allow opening eyes on areas that needmore atte Research Paper Essay

19in a timely manner. The analysis in this study will allow opening eyes on areas that needmore atte Research Paper Essay

Summary Carbon fiber reinforced polymers are composite materials that are quite useful in the automotive industry. When compared to metals such as aluminum or steel they are equally strong and stiff. However, composite materials hold a bigger advantage because they help reduce a vehicles overall weight. Weight reduction holds several benefits to the driver and the environment including: lower emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, increased vehicle maneuverability and stability, and also less fuel consumption. However, the problem of incorporating composites into the manufacturing process is that it really slows down the manufacturing process. At best, manufacturers can use recent technology to quicken the manufacturing process but the full benefits of composites are not realized since the efficiency in the manufacturing process is interrupted. In fact, experts assert that the full benefits of using composites can only be achieved when the manufacturing process uses low level and labor intensive technologies apart from automated technology. The manufacturing process involved curing the carbon fiber reinforced polymers. The curing process best resembles the fermentation of wine though not as long. To create high integrity carbon fiber composite component the longer the processing times which are needed to manufacture the materials. As a result, using carbon reinforced polymers is quite difficult especially for standard car manufactures who need to manufacture many cars per day, month, and year. In fact, aluminum is the best option because through heat treatment and utilizing its polymers it stands as the best option to creating road efficient cars which are also safe to drive in. Introduction In recent years, the automotive industry is increasingly utilizing carbon fiber reinforced polymers to making their vehicle s structures (Graph 1). The switch from traditional metallic materials is specifically due to the advantages carbon reinforced materials offer especially in decreasing the mass of a vehicle and their mechanical properties. Furthermore, the composite materials are actually quite useful because they offer the same level strength and stiffness as traditional metallic materials such as aluminum and steel. Nevertheless, despite these benefits the production time of these vehicles has definitely increased since creating high integrity composite materials requires longer processing periods. This essay compares carbon fiber composites and traditional metallic and also addresses the competitive nature of composite materials in the automotive industries. Carbon Fiber Composites vs. Traditional Metallic Materials A variety of composite materials are being used in the automotive industry including low performance glass fiber and polyester and high performance carbon fiber and epoxy systems (Park & Seo, 2014, 186). These materials have numerous advantages when used to make cars because they significantly reduce the weight of a vehicle. Reducing the weight of a vehicle is of great advantage because it increases fuel efficiency and reduces the engine s carbon emissions. Studies indicate that by reducing a vehicle s weight by 100 kilograms fuel consumption is automatically reduced by around 0.3 liters to 0.4 liters every 100 kilometers (Kelly, 2004). Another advantage of using composite materials is that due to the ability to mold parts together there are less numbers of individual parts to a vehicle. Consequently, this makes creating the high volume car concepts much cheaper in contrast to using traditional metallic materials. In fact, the composite materials allow engineers and designers to become more creative in their designs especially having to do with creating more space for commuters. Furthermore, creating items such as the monocoque becomes a very interesting occurrence especially given the strength and stiffness of carbon reinforced polymers (Belingardi, 2012, 34). In fact, many high performance vehicles especially race cars, are created using composite materials and design process due to the malleability during creation and rigid nature once it is complete. Currently, composite materials are used in a limited scale in high volume automotive structures. In fact, the composite materials are limited to the secondary structures on a vehicle s exterior structure including the energy absorbing bumpers, the body panels and the wheel housings. The body panels are regularly made from the sheet molding compound (SMC) which is a process based on the thermoset matrix which is strengthened by discontinuous glass fiber (Kelly, 2004, 1). On the other hand, the energy absorbing bumpers and the front panels are regularly made from the glass mat thermoplastic (GMT) process which is based on discontinuous glass fiber strengthened by polypropylene. Both SMC and GMT processes are quite similar to manufacturing process used to make semi finished metal sheet materials. However, their structural efficiency is usually low but a bit higher compared to steel in terms of plate bending (Kelly, 2004). Nevertheless, both SMC and GMT are quite useful because the products created through processes exhibit high-energy absorption, good formability, resistance to corrosion and scratch resistance. Composite materials are quite efficient in reducing the mass of a vehicle s structure since they can reduce it by 50 to 67 percent when compared to the metal made structure (Kelly, 2004, 2). Other alternative metals such as aluminum and high strength steel can only bring about a weight reduction of 40 to 55 percent and 25 to 35 percent correspondingly (Kelly, 2004, 1). The reduction of a structure s mass leads to an overall reduction in weight for other systems within the vehicle. For example, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac with SMC cargo area (Image 1) is made using the SMC process and it has resulted in a 20 percent weight reduction compared a cargo area made using a metal alternative (Kelly, 2004, 2). Effect of High Production Rates For many standard class vehicles such as Toyota and Nissan, the use of composite materials in the production process hampers the required rates of production. Standard class vehicles are under the highest demand around the world because they are cheap and quite efficient. The use of composite materials in their production processes can enhance their overall efficiency however the problem lays in the time which is needed to process composite materials and create the actual desired structure. According to research, composite materials are mostly used in the creation of high end sports cars which have an annual production rate of less than 500 units per brand (Kelly, 2004, 2). In fact, the manufacturing process of vehicles using composite materials is very labor intensive and highly not suitable for high production volumes which are needed for standard class vehicles. The manufacturing process for carbon fiber reinforced polymers begins with the production of a carbon filament. This filament is produced from an originating polymer such as rayon, polyacrylonitrile, and petroleum pitch (Gibson, 2011, 89). Polyacrylonitrile and rayon are synthetic polymers and therefore need to be spun to create filament yarns through mechanical and chemical processes (Belingardi, 2012, 56). These processes are essential because they align the polymer s atoms in manner which improves the final physical attributes when they have been converted to carbon fiber. The second stage is the molding aspect of using carbon fiber reinforced polymers. The molding process begins by laying the carbon fiber sheets in a mold which directly resembles the shape of the final product. In the automotive industry this process is used when creating smaller parts such as the wheel housing and bumpers (Kelly, 2004, 2). After the carbon fiber cloth has been layered into the desired shape, the mold is filled with air cured or heated epoxy. After the mold has dried the outcome is a very stiff, strong and corrosion resistant auto part. The vacuum bagging process is also an effective method of manufacturing especially when making simple pieces such as monocoques and engine holders. This manufacturing process involves applying a resin coat to the carbon fiber reinforced polymer (Gibson, 2011, 125). After the resin has been applied the now vacuum mold is set aside and allowed to cure or harden. There are several ways of applying the resin to a vacuum mold. The first is called a wet layup and it is a manual method where two coats of resin are applied to a mold. The second method of applying resin into the mold is through infusion. In this process the fabric and mold are placed inside a bag and a small tube is placed within the vacuum (Gibson, 2011, 126). The resin moves through the small tube which has holes and the resin is spread evenly on the entire mold. The third process of resin application is actually known as a dry layup. In this process, the carbon fiber material is previously impregnated with resin and the mold is simply put in a vacuum for the curing process (Gibson, 2011, 127). This method is actually the most preferred method because it has the least amount of resin waste. In consideration of all this information it is quite clear that it is very impossible to maintain high production rates of standard cars since the process of creating specific parts takes quite a bit of time. Moving Away From Carbon Fiber Components Niche vehicle manufactures have widely used carbon fiber reinforced polymers when creating their vehicle structures. Nevertheless, like the standard class vehicle manufacturers some of these niche car manufactures have resulted to utilizing aluminum due to its specific attractive qualities during manufacturing. Aluminum is an essential material to use in the manufacturing process especially because it is ideal for automated manufacturing process. For example, Ferrari manufacturers claim they can make 30 cars a day using aluminum that is far much better compared to the less than 500 cars they would be able to make in an entire year (Carney, 2011). The process of manufacturing vehicles out of composite materials is quite labor intensive and takes quite a lot of time to put together individual vehicle units. Apart from the limitation in production, there is the issue of maintaining weight. According the Ferrari manufacturers the weight reduction potential that is attained from using composite materials can only be realized when low rate and labor intensive technologies are used (Carney, 2011). When more technologies that are efficient are used to facilitate higher production rates the result is excess thickness in the concept models, high resin content after the application process, and also the carbon fibers are not utilized to their best benefit (Park & Seo, 2014, 182). Nevertheless, aluminum is a light metal with numerous allows which are ideal for specific functions within the vehicle. Furthermore, through heat treating, aluminum becomes stronger and takes away the need to incorporate steel into the vehicle. Steel is quite a heavy metal and using it in the car eventually disrupts efficiency in the handling of the vehicle. However, heat treating aluminum is makes it as good as steel in terms of its properties of deformability for crash absorption (Carney, 2011). Nevertheless, while the niche cars are slowly moving away from composite materials in their manufacturing processes, it is quite clear that the future hold much promise in incorporating aluminum metal matrix composite (Carney, 2011). This will further add more stiffness to the vehicle body structure since the aluminum will mesh will be soaked with epoxy. According to Patrizio Moruzzi, a project manager for Ferrari, in the next five years the car manufacturer aims to reduce the weight of their aluminum vehicles by up to 20% by suing aluminum metal composites (Carney, 2011). Conclusion In conclusion, the automotive industry faces one of the biggest challenges in its history as it tries to incorporate composite materials into its manufacturing processes. While the composite materials have a lot of advantages, the manufacturing process stands as the biggest deterrence of using composite materials. However, many car companies have figured out how to incorporate composite materials into their manufacturing process in order to take advantage of the strong points of composite materials. Some niche cars makers are moving away from composite materials into aluminum but the future looks promising in terms of manufacturing companies being able to take advantage of composite materials. References Allison, J. E., & Cole, G. S. 1993. Metal-matrix composites in the automotive industry: opportunities and challenges. JoM, 45(1), 19-24. Belingardi, G. 2012. Recent development in car body lightweight design: A contribution toward greener environment. Mobility & Vehicle Mechanics, 38(4). Carney, D. 2011. Ferrari Prefers Aluminum Over Carbon Fiber. SAE International. Gibson, R. F. 2011. Principles of composite material mechanics. CRC Press. Kelly, G. 2004. Joining of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics for Automotive Applications. Royal Institute of Technology: Department of Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering. Park, S. J., & Seo, M. K. 2014. Manufacture of Carbon Fiber Composites. In Carbon Fibers (pp. 179-235). Springer Netherlands. Appenndix Image 1: Ford Explorer Sport Trac with SMC Cargo Area: http://media.ed.edmunds- media.com/ford/explorer-sport-trac/2010/ei/2010_ford_explorer-sport-trac_crew-cab- pickup_xlt_ca_ei_1_500.jpg Graph 1: Growing Trends in need for Composite materials: http://www.lucintel.com/lucintelbrief/opportunitiesinglobalcompositesmarket-final.pdf


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