Elemental’s Rp1 sports car features patented composite technology
British sports car maker Elemental Motor Co. has announced several updates to its lightweight sports car, the Rp1. The company has moved a step closer to completing the first production version of the Rp1 with the completion of its carbon fiber composite tub. Designed in-house using Elemental’s patented CarbonAl technology, the central structure consists of custom-engineered carbon side-pods and dash panel with an integrated structural crossbeam. These sections are then bonded to the bulkhead and floor panels, which are made from laser-cut composite aluminum sandwich panels. The result is a central structure that weighs just 65kg.
“We’ve taken a different approach to the traditional method of molding a monolithic carbon skin in an autoclave,” said Peter Kent, Elemental’s composites director. “Instead, by using CNC pre-cut carbon fiber skins, which are then joined together and pressurized in a silicon vacuum bag at 6-bar – the same as that found on an autoclave – we’ve managed to achieve the uniform and high-quality finish that can be found on the Rp1’s CarbonAl tub."
“With intuitive mold tool design, we’ve managed to produce a number of ‘one-piece’ components for the Rp1’s tub. This eliminates a secondary and intensive operation of bonding components together and therefore reduces processing time plus material wastage. Manufacturing times can be reduced by 50% or more, whilst still retaining the optimum fiber orientation and thus strength of each component which in turn results in a lighter product," he said.
The Elemental team has drawn on decades of experience working in the motorsport and high-performance road car industry to incorporate a feet-up driving position – a design traditionally only found on Formula 1 and World Endurance prototypes.
Elemental Motor has also partnered with industrial thread manufacturer Coats (Stockley Park, UK; Marion, NC, US). The partnership will see Elemental work with Coats to develop the lightweight and strong wheel arches for the Rp1.
“Our partnership with Elemental is an example of our focus on customer-led innovation, “ said Rajiv Sharma, Global CEO of the Industrial group for Coats. “Combining our specialist product expertise and newly developed range of composite fibers with Elemental’s automotive knowledge offers potential for much more successful and effective applications.”
Elemental is due to announce further technical detail plus the final production design of the new wheel arch design at JEC World (March 8-10; Paris).
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