Dow, Clemson University team up on carbon fiber vehicle prototype

Dow Automotive Systems created a customized formulation of a VORAFORCE epoxy resin matrix system for the project.

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Each year, the Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) students work with an automotive manufacturer to develop a concept vehicle that achieves 'futuristic' goals. This year’s version, the Deep Orange 5 vehicle, is focused on achieving personal urban mobility for so-called mega-cities in 2020, and is targeted for marketing to generations Y and Z. Working collaboratively, students, multi-disciplinary faculty and participating industry partners like Dow Automotive Systems (Auburn Hills, MI, US) focus on producing a new vehicle prototype each year.

This year, CU-ICAR students specified Dow Automotive Systems BETAFORCE and BETAMATE structural adhesives as part of the Deep Orange 5 vehicle joining strategy, with the goal of successfully bonding aluminum and carbon fiber composite for body panels and the vehicle structure.

Epoxy resins from Dow Automotive Systems were also specified for the upper body structures that were produced via a resin transfer molding on a carbon fiber pre-form. The carbon fiber and epoxy materials enabled weight savings and helped create a lower center of gravity for the vehicle.

“To help the Deep Orange development team achieve their lightweighting goals, Dow Automotive Systems created a customized formulation of a VORAFORCE epoxy resin matrix system,” said Allan James, composite structures marketing manager at Dow Automotive Systems. “This enabled the VORAFORCE to offer an adjusted cure time to work with the Deep Orange development system. It’s exactly like the collaborative work we do with customers. Once we understand their production goals and systems, we can formulate products that meet specific needs.”

“Working with the experienced team and proven materials from Dow Automotive Systems gave us great insight and helped us achieve some of our most important goals,” said Paul Venhovens, BMW Endowed Chair in Systems integration at CU-ICAR. “We were pleased to successfully bond dissimilar substrates and get an epoxy system for the carbon fiber structures that would support our production capabilities. We look forward to working with Dow Automotive Systems again on the Deep Orange 6 vehicle.”

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