Bentley has developed a new method for producing carbon fiber auto parts, which is called directed carbon fiber preforming, and these new parts will replace much heavier metal structural components currently used. Bentley’s new design break through uses standard carbon fiber but adds a thin outer layer of metal to increase rigidity and give the piece the properties of a solid metal component without the weight. This has allowed them to substantially decrease the body weight of a car constructed with these composites 60% versus a standard metal body while retaining or exceeding all of the structural stiffness and integrity of the standard metal body. It also helps to reduce cost as they aren’t required to use high quality carbon fiber fabric when it is used in this process, lowering material costs.
Actual production applications haven’t been rolled out in a large spread fashion for Bentley yet, but they have started to use this process on a few parts of their cars. The new Mulsanne utilized this manufacturing technique and there are plans to create a floor pan for an upcoming Audi as well. It should be interesting to see what the next few years bring in regards to composite materials in the automotive world.
Story via Wards Auto