The Cost of Automotive Polymer Composites: A Review and Assessment of DOE's Lightweight Materials Composites Research

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Polymer composite materials have been a part of the automotive industry for several decades, with early application in the 1953 Corvette. These materials have been used for applications with low production volumes, because of their shortened lead times and lower investment costs relative to conventional steel fabrication. Important drivers of the growth of polymer composites have been the reduced weight and parts consolidation opportunities the material offers, as well as design flexibility, corrosion resistance, material anisotropy, and mechanical properties. Although these benefits are well recognized by the industry, polymer composite use has been dampened by high material costs, slow production ... continued below

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47 pages

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Das, S. January 26, 2001.

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Polymer composite materials have been a part of the automotive industry for several decades, with early application in the 1953 Corvette. These materials have been used for applications with low production volumes, because of their shortened lead times and lower investment costs relative to conventional steel fabrication. Important drivers of the growth of polymer composites have been the reduced weight and parts consolidation opportunities the material offers, as well as design flexibility, corrosion resistance, material anisotropy, and mechanical properties. Although these benefits are well recognized by the industry, polymer composite use has been dampened by high material costs, slow production rates, and to a lesser extent, concerns about recyclability. Also impeding large scale automotive applications is a curious mixture of concerns about material issues such as crash energy absorption, recycling challenges, competitive and cost pressures, the industry's general lack of experience and comfort with the material, and industry concerns about its own capabilities (Flynn and Belzowski 1995). Polymer composite materials are generally made of two or more material components--fibers, either glass or carbon, reinforced in the matrix of thermoset or thermoplastic polymer materials. The glass-reinforced thermoset composites are the most commonly used composite in automotive applications today, but thermoplastic composites and carbon fiber-reinforced thermosets also hold potential. It has been estimated that significant use of glass-reinforced polymers as structural components could yield a 20-35% reduction in vehicle weight. More importantly, the use of carbon fiber-reinforced materials could yield a 40-65% reduction in weight.

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47 pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 26 Jan 2001

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2000/283
  • Grant Number: AC05-96OR22464
  • DOI: 10.2172/777656 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 777656
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc723609

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • January 26, 2001

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 29, 2015, 5:31 a.m.

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  • March 24, 2016, 6:27 p.m.

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Das, S. The Cost of Automotive Polymer Composites: A Review and Assessment of DOE's Lightweight Materials Composites Research, report, January 26, 2001; Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc723609/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.