IKV, the Institute of Plastics Processing at RWTH Aachen University in Germany has worked together with the Institute of Automotive Engineering (ika) based at the same university and a number of industry partners to prototype an engine hood made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the Ford Focus. Compared with a typical series-production steel hood, the CFRP hood is around 60% lighter, weighing less than 5 kg.
The prototype hood was formed using the gap impregnation process in the space of just a few minutes. In the process, a preform is inserted into a mold, then impregnated with a liquid resin, and finally cured. The innovative feature here is rapid impregnation through the creation of a temporary flow gap, followed by the subsequent compression of the impregnated preforms by means of pressing and squeezing....