Lightweight profiles for heavy loads
Thin-walled hollow profiles such as pipes or supports can be already produced from carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). A well-known example of this is the high-priced carbon fiber bicycle frame. However, the existing manufacturing methods allow only thin-walled hollow profiles with uniform cross section thicknesses. In addition, these profiles are generally much more expensive than steel and aluminum profiles due to the type of carbon fiber and the manufacturing processes currently used.
As part of the research project, these disadvantages of CFRP hollow profiles are to be addressed. To do this, processes for the production of profiles with variable, locally-reinforced cross sections and larger wall thicknesses will be developed. Moreover, the use of less expensive carbon fibers will allow a reduction in price. However, these carbon fibers also require new methods in material processing. A further increase of technical and economical properties shall be achieved by increasing the fiber volume content. Methods for attachment to surrounding components are required in order to open up useful new application areas for the newly-developed profiles.
This large number of different research tasks can only be managed within the framework of a joint project, in which innovative profile manufacturers work together with research institutes and an industrial end user. Audi is developing the requirements for highly-loaded hollow profiles, examining the newly-developed profiles, and comparing them with the existing technology. Furthermore, Audi will also develop suitable attachment methods in collaboration with the Institute for Carbon Composites at TU München. The other partners will study and enhance their existing production processes with the aim of solving the research tasks outlined above. Eight different production processes will be studied in order to achieve the objective of the project.
Figure (from left to right): Testing device, stabilisor for chassis
If it is possible – within the framework of the project – to develop such highly-resilient and economical hollow profiles, there will be a wide application range not only in the automotive industry (e.g. as stabilizers for suspension), but also in the sports and construction industries, among others.