Gurit seeks to boost carbon fiber auto parts production

Gurit's new U.K. facility that makes parts for the Aston Martin DBS is starting to pay dividends.

Related Suppliers

Gurit (Wattwil, Switzerland) reported at the Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition (ACCE, Troy, Mich., USA) last week that despite a steep learning curve and a few bumps in the road, Gurit’s $4 million investment in a pilot plant to manufacture production-ready carbon fiber composite auto parts is at last paying dividends. The U.K.-based 20,000-sq-ft (1,858-sq-m) facility makes a carbon fiber composite front hood, rear deck lid and front and rear fenders for the Aston Martin DBS. The plant is designed with nine manufacturing cells that cut, assemble, mold, machine and paint the Class A exterior body panels, starting with standard, pre-impregnated laminate or kits. Current production volume is about 80 to 100 parts per day. Since the plant’s startup in November 2007, Gurit has succeeded in reducing molding cycle time by 50 percent, according to Martin Starkey, development manager. Current molding cycle time on the nickel shell molds is about 90 minutes. Starkey says the company is striving to reduce cycle time further by optimizing debulking and tool modifications to reduce tool heat-up time and accelerate cool-down. “We have a blueprint to move to a large-scale operation in Eastern Europe,” says Starkey, although he did not specify a target date.