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Process breakthrough integrates moulded plastic features and inserts with high quality carbon composite components

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2014-01-16 15:37:05 - Prodrive innovation eliminates costly bonding of clips, fasteners, threaded inserts and hinges to provide easier, more robust assembly with flawless exterior finish

A new process from Prodrive will make carbon composite components easier to incorporate into premium and luxury vehicles Features normally added in a separate operation, such as clips and inserts for threaded fasteners, can now be moulded directly onto the back of high quality composite panels, producing a more cost-effective part than a conventional bonded assembly, and one with greater mechanical strength. Already producing parts for the first two production applications, both premium automotive cars, the process removes a major barrier to the wider use of composites.

“One of the challenges of using carbon composite panels is the provision of fastenings for their attachment, which can lead to costly, intricate components,” explained Prodrive Composites engineering manager, Gary White. “Conventional solutions involve

creating a complex carbon shape to carry the fittings. By moulding onto the finished composite, we can match the convenience of an injection-moulded plastic part at a fraction of the cost, while providing the low weight, strength and superb display surface of carbon.”

In most automotive applications, Prodrive supplies the vehicle manufacturer directly, satisfying rigorous quality demands, especially for prominent interior surfaces. “Our customers are seeking cosmetic perfection on all exposed surfaces, backed by a number of environmental and climatic tests to ensure durability even in the most demanding climates,” said White. “Parts made using our new process have passed the full range of OEM tests and we are now ramping up to supply production vehicles.”

Innovations by Prodrive, such as this new moulding process, combined with the company’s proven high quality and expertise in design and analysis, has led to a strong and sustained growth in its composites business.

“We operate as the engineering partner for many customers, providing much more than just components,” said White. “We have established quite a track record for developing new processes that allow composites to be used more effectively. In 2009 we launched the lacquer-free finish that resists stone chips and UV deterioration. Earlier this year we launched coloured composites. Now we have integrated moulded plastic features onto composite panels. The common factor is in helping to make our customers’ products more competitive – you can’t stand still in this business.”

About Prodrive Composites
Prodrive Composites manufactures lightweight carbon composite components for the automotive, aerospace, defence and motorsport industries. It is a part of the Prodrive Group which also includes Prodrive Motorsport; Prodrive Advanced Technology and Brand&, producers of bespoke branded accessory collections.

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