New Technology ford-cfrp-hood-1

Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Ford Showcases Possible Mass Production Carbon Fiber Hood

In an effort to bring down the weight of vehicles, large automakers are looking to all sorts of alternatives to steel. Carbon fiber is light, strong, and expensive, but Ford may have found a way to employ many of the benefits on mass production vehicles. They call it Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, and a hood made from CFRP is 50% lighter than a standard steel hood.

Carbon fiber is one of the most promising and futuristic materials on the market today. It is five-times stronger and two-thirds lighter than steel while being twice as stiff, making it a promising alternative as automakers look to shed weight and improve fuel economy. But it is also expensive and the process of making it is time consuming, so mass production isn’t really attainable.

Ford’s CFRP hood concept is supposedly 50% lighter than a conventional steel hood, while having a much shorter assembly time. This means mass production might be possible in a cost effective way. Since hoods are one of the heaviest (and usually simplest) single body panels on an automobile, it is the perfect place to start. Depending on the car, you could be shedding 50 pounds or more per vehicle.

While carbon fiber is used in limited quantities on some supercars like the $100,000 Corvette ZR1, full-blown carbon fiber cars like the upcoming Ferrari F70 hybrid or $537,000 Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive supercar come with price tags much, much higher. But if Ford can pioneer the use of affordable carbon fiber body panels, it could give them a distinct edge in lightening their cars and improving fuel economy. The Blue Oval wants to drop as much as 700 pounds per vehicle by 2020 to help meet higher fuel economy standards and expectations. This CFRP hood could be a big part of the equation.

Source: Plastics Today


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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Jason Carpp

    Sounds like an awesome idea. I’d be willing to pay extra for some light weight, ruggedness, if it were mass-produced. Carbon fibre, although pricey, I believe can be used to build whole car bodies.

  • http://www.plastics-car.com Rob Krebs

    Thanks for the great write-up, Christopher Demorro! It’s great to hear that Ford is investing in future car design by developing methods for cost-efficiently producing carbon fiber reinforced plastic, a material that’s benefits can include automobile lightweighting , improved fuel economy, and car safety. But Ford isn’t the only one working towards mass production of CFRP. In fact, new developments like the ability to “process model” long GLASS fiber in Moldflow – the precursor to similar processes now being researched by the DOE for carbon fiber injection molded plastics of the future – are allowing for quick and inexpensive carbon fiber mass production in the near future. This means even more lightweight structural parts and larger volume mass production models, without the longer cycle-times in production!

    For more on carbon fiber car parts, visit: http://www.facebook.com/plasticcar and http://www.plastics-car.com/Resources/Resource-Library/Long-Glass-Fiber-Molding.html

    Rob Krebs, Market Innovations, American Chemistry Council

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