Automotive composite solutions are being sought to meet the demand for Class- A body closure panels Open and shut case By Jonathan Smith, Gurit UK
Composite body closures have many attractive attributes that appeal to automotive OEMs that produce premium vehicles. Composites, particularly long fibre-reinforced thermosets, offer the potential for reduced part masses and design freedom for stylists. They allow complex geometries that are otherwise unachievable by traditional technologies, and the marketing potential of a high technology material. There are a great number of factors that limit the widespread use of composite closures in large production volumes. One such factor is the associated high part cost that results from labour- intensive processing, expensive and fluctuating raw material costs combined with short- lived composite tooling and batch curing processes. The specific definitions of Class- A may vary between different vehicle manufacturers, however the final overriding criteria for supplier and OEM alike, is to cost- effectively produce a composite panel with the requisite surface finish.