The only downside is that lighter materials are potentially less safe than conventional materials used in car construction such as steel. Not so with carbon fiber, which is not only lighter than steel but around 10 times as strong.
Little wonder then that automakers and suppliers alike have been striving to develop carbon fiber that can be produced quickly and at low cost for mass production.
Now GM has announced that it will work with Japanese carbon fiber experts Teijin to co-develop advanced carbon fiber composite technologies for potential high-volume use globally in its cars, trucks and crossovers.
The co-development pact signed today involves the use of Teijin’s innovative carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic technology, a faster and more efficient way to produce carbon fiber composites. For Teijin, the arrangement could lead to widening its portfolio beyond specialty and high-end automotive carbon fiber applications.
To support the relationship, Teijin will establish the Teijin Composites Application Center, a technical center in the U.S. early next year.
Teijin's proprietary technology has the ability to mass-produce carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic components with cycle times of under a minute. Conventional carbon fiber-reinforced composites use thermosetting resins and require a much longer timeframe for molding, often hours for a single component.