Polystrand, PPG and SANLUIS Rassini collaborate on lightweighting technologies

The three companies join forces to prepare a sports car to showcase continuous fiber thermoplastic composites technologies. The car will compete in SCCA's GTL class.
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With goals of accelerated development and freedom of design, Polystrand (Englewood, Colo., USA), in partnership with PPG Industries Inc. (Cheswick, Pa., USA) and SANLUIS Rassini (Mexico City, Mexico), is preparing a vehicle to compete in the Grand Touring Lite (GTL) classification in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). GT cars are purpose-built, highly-modified replicas of series-produced sport sedans. The class rules offer great freedom of construction by allowing one-off chassis designs, use of alternate materials and a multitude of drivetrain and suspension options.

The goal of the GTL project is not just to field a competitive race car, but also to showcase continuous fiber thermoplastic composite technologies that can be applied to the automotive and transportation industry. The vehicle provides a development platform for complementary products and engineering concepts in an organized program. The materials and applications are lightweight composite structural components for chassis and suspension, interior and exterior panels, aerodynamic aids and fire-resistant materials.

Construction is currently in process on the Honda CRX chassis, a purpose-built GT car that has consistently appeared in the SCCA Runoffs since first hitting the track in 1991. Completion of the first phase of development will will occur in early September, and the car is already slated to appear as a feature vehicle at the Society of Plastic Engineers' ACCE (Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition) event, Sept. 8-11 in Novi, Mich., and also at CAMX (The Composites and Advanced Materials Expo) in Orlando, Fla. Oct. 13-16.

“We’re excited to demonstrate our technologies in such a challenging, high-stress operating environment, especially in structural and suspension components,” says Jonathan Spiegel, senior engineer at Polystrand, Inc. “The ability to showcase our lightweight, durable and recyclable materials with support from these industry-leading partners is a unique opportunity for us.”

Tony Berlingieri, business unit manager at SANLUIS Rassini, adds, “As a leading suspension component manufacturer, SANLUIS Rassini is thrilled to partner with PPG and Polystrand to provide innovative, forward-thinking material advancements in lightweight suspension solutions for our customers’ needs. With our knowledge of suspension design and development, coupled with our partners’ strengths in materials, we are extremely confident this initiative will provide valuable lightweighting opportunities.”  The world’s largest designer and manufacturer of leaf springs for light vehicles, SANLUIS Rassini Suspensions designs and produces multi–leaf springs, parabolic springs and coil springs for OEMs in both North and South America.

PPG Fiber Glass branding and communications manager Laurie Cochran had this to say: “PPG is proud and excited to be a partner in this project. Supporting our customers in targeted growth market segments and technologies, such as this project, is a key strategy of PPG Fiber Glass. It’s important to us that we deliver solutions and services that support the business initiatives of our customers.”

The GTL project will compete in the SCCA Majors, a national level racing series, which culminates in the SCCA Runoffs, a national championship event held each fall. Starting in 2014, the championship events are slated for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Daytona International Speedway, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. These are premier venues in the racing world, and the championship events offer widespread exposure. The event boasts premier sponsorship from companies such as Mazda, Sunoco, BF Goodrich and Mobil 1, and contingency awards are offered to the participants by dozens of sponsors including automakers such as Nissan, Mini, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Companies that feel they have complementary products and technologies and are interested in participating in the project are encouraged to contact Jonathan Spiegel of Polystrand, Inc.