GM looking to bring carbon fiber to mass production vehicles
Carbon fiber doesn't have remain in the realm of the high end race vehicles, that is if GM and Teijin's plan works out. Carbon fiber materials are stronger than steel at a fraction of the weight. Less weight can mean a fast race car, or it can mean greater fuel efficiency, depending on how the technology is applied.
GM and Teijin today announced a plan to work together on expanding Teijin's carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic technology for mass production use. If it works out we'll see the technology used to reduce vehicle weight in the future, which should lead to fuel savings, while keeping the vehicle just as strong.
Carbon fiber materials arrange carbon atoms into a crystalline shape forming long fibers, that are twisted together like yarn, then woven to make a fabric. The crystal structure is what gives the material its high strength-to-weight ratio.
The traditional way to convert carbon fiber material into something like automobile parts is with thermosetting resins that take a long time to mold into the desired shape. Teijin's approach uses a thermoplastic which sets in under a minute, drastically reducing the time required to produce a part. This has the potential to become a process that can be used in scale needed for GM's manufacturing plants.