Pultrusion picks up speed in automotive applications
Pultrusion is one of the most cost-effective processes for manufacturing high-volume composite parts. Most commonly associated with glass fiber-reinforced profiles used in construction and corrosion-resistance applications, tailored pultrusions
Two commercial launches highlighted at CAMX 2018 (Oct. 16-18, Dallas, TX, US) seem to confirm this technology/market fit. L&L Products, Inc. launched its Continuous Composite Systems (CCS) pultrusions, which use polyurethane resin for automotive applications such as side sills and crash structures. Designed to replace traditional metal structures that require bulkheads for necessary stiffness, CCS pultrusions offer light weight — 75% less mass than steel and 30% less than aluminum — at an economic price. Continuous fiber profiles include three variations: CCS Set using glass fiber, CCS Hybrid using a customized mix of glass fiber and carbon fiber, and CCS Extreme using only carbon fiber. A short-fiber version co-extruded with adhesive comprises a fourth product, CCS Co-Ex. The three continuous-fiber products may also be combined with L&L’s adhesives as part of the company’s in-line processing, further reducing manufacturing costs and time-to-delivery. Beyond automotive, CCS products are also aimed at wind turbine blade spar caps and industrial and architectural applications.
Shape Corp. (Grand Haven, MI, US) also is developing pultrusions for automotive, but with a curve — literally. The company has the first operational installation of Thomas Technik & Innovation’s (TTI, Bremervoerde, Germany) Radius-Pultrusion
Applications aren't as demanding as airframe composites, but requirements are still exacting — passenger safety is key.
As the wind energy market continues to grow, competition heats up between glass and carbon fiber composites for turbine blades.
Compared to legacy materials like steel, aluminum, iron and titanium, composites are still coming of age, and only just now are being better understood by design and manufacturing engineers. However, composites’ physical properties — combined with unbeatable light weight — make them undeniably attractive.