Use of carbon fiber continues to advance in U.S. automotive applications as design engineers look for ways to maintain stiffness, but reduce weight.
In one of the more interesting examples, General Motors is using a blend of chopped carbon and glass fibers coupled with a proprietary nanoclay technology in a sheet molding application for the 2013 Corvette.
Weight of the 427 model needed to be reduced. "So we got to work on what we could do within sheet molding technology to take mass out," says an engineering representative for the Corvette.
GM and its manufacturing partner, Molded Fiberglass Co. (Ashtabula, OH), tested two blends of 15% by volume chopped carbon fiber reinforcement with 30% glass chopped fiber in a nano-based resin system, as well as the inverse ratios of the fibers. Mixes vary depend on strength needed for a specific application. "We only did this where we had to have the specific strength to accomplish the mechanical properties that we were challenged with."...