The concept is the result of a two-year collaboration with Ford, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and GRM Consulting that had the objective of weight reduction and improved manufacturing cycle time. The Composite Lightweight Automotive Suspension System (CLASS) project delivered a new carbon fibre composite tie blade knuckle component, 35% lighter than the multi-piece steel design it replaced. The design incorporates multiple composite materials – continuous carbon fibre biaxial and unidirectional epoxy prepregs with discontinuous carbon fibre vinyl ester SMC – in combination with an optimised steel insert.
Current manufacturing methods for composites are not compatible with high volume output so novel manufacturing solutions needed to be developed to improve this position. The manufacturing technology, the specifically created CAE tools and the design developed for this lightweight suspension technology can be applied to many vehicle applications, in body as well as in chassis.
Key benefits of the innovation are reported to include:
- a structural composite suspension component producing significant weight savings using a patented prepreg/SMC/steel overmould manufacturing process, designed applying newly developed CAE technology;
- weight reduction with an associated reduction of CO2 emissions;
- complex composite part manufactured in one shot;
- reduced engineering/development time to market;
- CAE tools for the optimisation of multi-material parts;
- industry first prepreg/SMC/steel overmoulding.
Industries: Automotive and Road Transportation