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Old 4th January 2013, 05:01   #1
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Default Carbon Composites in cars

European premium car manufacturers are trying to introduce carbon composites in car exterior, replacing metal sheets to make the cars more light weight. But challenges are to meet the passive safety advantages of metal sheets in many crash scenarios as metals with their more plastic deformation properties can absorb a lot of crash energies, while Carbon Composites are more brittle in nature with very less crash absorption properties. But efforts are there to make the physical properties of Composites comparable to Steel or Aluminum sheets. Which means in near future we may able to see lighter cars with more composites and greater fuel efficiencies.
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Old 4th January 2013, 12:23   #2
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Default Re: Carbon Composites in cars

Interesting. I dont know much about composites, but I do know that for instance on F1 cars they have been able to design it in such a way it does absorb a lot of the energy in a crash. But it still shatters!

See also this link:
Not a F1, actually in this case a part for a regular road car. Note the speed is 9 m/s, that's only 32.4 km/h. A steel construction would have crumbled and bend, but not shattered. Not sure what the best way of shock/impact absorption is from the car occupants point of view. It's all about deceleration rates. I.e. how much g for how long.

But it does show there are a few other considerations coming into play other than weight and fuel efficiency.

On a regular road car, even a premium one, you want to be able to repair the car after it's been in an accident. Composites tend to shatter, so in most cases need replacing. But for smaller dents and bangs you tend not to replace say a whole wing, you just fix the dent. Much quicker, much cheaper.

These days there are great techniques for restoring dents in cars. At the end of the day it's probably about economics, simply replacing might be cheaper.

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Old 4th January 2013, 15:49   #3
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Default Re: Carbon Composites in cars

Apart from the strict safety regulations that warrant the need for such materials, could it be that replacing body components might be profitable to the manufacturer? I'm not doubting ethics here but just a thought. Any ideas?
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Old 5th January 2013, 02:17   #4
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Default Re: Carbon Composites in cars

Thanks for that video! yes you are right.. the replacement cost of composite parts are a big concern in low speed crashes. That is the aspect what OEM wants to improve. They may also tend to introduce this only in high-end cars for the same reason.
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