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Intrepidation

Japanese firms working to make carbon fiber mainstream

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m6_roof_cf_450-op.jpg

On the surface, carbon fiber sounds like a wonder-product which can replace much of the heavy metal, especially steel, that makes up the vast majority of nearly every automobile's structure. Dig a bit deeper, however, and there are a few flies in CF's ointment that make it very difficult to use in vehicles: price, supply and the time it takes to mold a the weaved material. Japan's big three carbon fiber producers are tackling each of these issues in a number of ways. First, the price of CF is expected to become more competitive as both carbon cloth goes down and rolled sheet steel goes up. What's more, as additional CF producing plants come online in the coming years, both the price and availability should improve. Third, new molding processes are being developed which could reduce the time it takes to produce a CF part from hours to minutes.

Carbon fiber is expected to ease the transition to more fuel efficient vehicles as it weights a fifth of what steel does for a part of roughly the same strength. As Automotive News points out, the overall weight of any given vehicle could be halved by replacing major structural steel components with CF, so expect to see CF move down market from the exotics to more mainstream models in the next decade or so.

Source: Autoblog

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Hmmmm.... carbon fibre does have its uses.

I don't think it going "mainstream" any time

soon, not in the sense of common use on

Corollas and Civics, but maybe some of the

G35/328i/CTS product will see use in CF in

the next few years.

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P.S. Carbon Fibre does not rust. That's HUGE.

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Interesting...are there processes to paint carbon fiber so it looks like a normal plastic or metal panel? I find the woven look of raw carbon fiber disgusting.

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Moltar:

Yes of course... that's commonplace in F1 or classy cars.

It's just that CF is still considered so exotic most people

want to show it off... be it Chevy with the Corvette or

BMW with the M-series cars.... or Ricers with their Civic.

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I suppose it would be the Japanese who would be able to make carbon fibre a more um, applicable in mainstream applications.

This would definitely help in chassis rigidity/weight and efficiency concerns.

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Moltar:

Yes of course... that's commonplace in F1 or classy cars.

You are right..I'm tired..I forgot about the various supercars that have CF bodies...

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Been there too... no biggie. Hope I did not come off condescending.

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Been there too... no biggie. Hope I did not come off condescending.

Nah...it was a 'D'oh' moment for me.

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I do hope CF becomes a more widely available material at a lower cost so it can be implemented in mainstream cars. It's as strong as steel yet much lighter so it's a great way to save a lot of weight, thereby driving up fuel efficiency as well as performance..

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I do hope CF becomes a more widely available material at a lower cost so it can be implemented in mainstream cars. It's as strong as steel yet much lighter so it's a great way to save a lot of weight, thereby driving up fuel efficiency as well as performance..

I agree, and this goes with what I've said before about automakers should maybe look more toward new materials for weight reduction instead of just technology when it comes to improving economy. Weight reduction doesn't increase the cost to maintain or repair as much, and may make more of a difference in vehicles that are already on the lighter end of the scale. A lightweight car can also make use of a smaller engine, so it's a double gain (less car to move = more efficient, smaller engine = more efficient. Or, same engine but lighter weight = more fun).

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