General Motors will achieve a 20-lb. weight saving on its 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Couple by using TCA Ultra Lite, a Class A body panel material, according to Continental Structural Plastics, a lightweight composite manufacturer.
This is the first production use of CSP’s Ultra Lite advanced composite.
“Through a joint continuous improvement effort, Chevrolet and CSP have significantly reduced the density of the Corvette body panels – from 1.9 specific gravity for the 2013 model year, to 1.6 specific gravity for the 2014 model year to 1.2 for the 2016 model year,” said Christopher Basela, Lead Engineer for Corvette Body Composites.
The mass savings afforded by TCA Ultra Lite is accomplished through the use of a CSP-patented technology that uses treated glass bubbles to replace some of the Calcium Carbonate filler, resulting in a lighter density material. On the C7, a total of 21 body panel assemblies, including doors, decklids, quarter panels and fenders, are molded from TCA Ultra Lite.
When combined with CSP’s patented vacuum and bonding manufacturing processes, TCA Ultra Lite offers a premium Class A finish with paint and gloss qualities comparable to metals, including aluminum. The material is able to withstand the E-coat process, and passes all OEM paint tests.
CSP says it also offers reduced costs at all volumes — and for production volumes under 150,000, tooling costs for composites can be as much as 50 to 70 percent less than those for stamping steel or aluminum.
CSP — along with Volkswagen, Ford, BASF, Dow Chemical and General Electric — is among the 57 companies participating in the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a public-private partnership aimed at creating jobs and boosting manufacturing within the automotive, wind turbine and compressed gas storage industries.
The new Institute, announced by President Obama in January, will focus on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites that combine strong fibers with tough plastics to yield materials that are lighter and stronger than steel.
In other efforts to drive fuel efficiency through lightweighting technologies, in April Ford and DowAksa signed a joint development agreement to develop cost-effective, high-volume manufacturing of automotive-grade carbon fiber.