Ford and DowAksa are accelerating joint research to develop high-volume manufacturing techniques for automotive-grade carbon fiber, aiming to make vehicles lighter for greater fuel efficiency, performance and capability. The companies will be part of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), created by the US government. (Earlier post.) The institute is part of the larger National Network for Manufacturing Innovation supported by the US Department of Energy.
The mission of the institute and the goal of Ford’s collaboration with DowAksa—a 50/50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.Ş.—is to overcome the high cost and limited availability of carbon fiber, while developing a viable, high-volume manufacturing process. Ford and Dow Chemical began working together in 2012 to develop low-cost, high-volume carbon fiber composites.
This opportunity builds upon Ford’s current joint development agreement with Dow Chemical and accelerates our time line to introduce carbon fiber composites into high-volume applications. This collaboration helps us accelerate our efforts to create lighter automotive-grade composite materials that benefit customers by enabling improved fuel economy without sacrificing strength.—Jim deVries, Ford global manager, Materials and Manufacturing Research
Ford’s expertise in high-volume manufacturing, design and engineering complements DowAksa’s strength in producing materials that make up carbon composites to create parts much lighter than steel components but with no loss of strength.
Our goal is to develop a material that can greatly reduce vehicle weight in support of improved fuel economy for our customers. The flexibility of the technology allows us to develop materials for all vehicle subsystems across the product line—resulting in a weight savings of more than 50 percent compared to steel.—Patrick Blanchard, Ford supervisor, Composites Group
Ford and DowAksa also are working together to reduce the energy needed to produce carbon fiber components, cut the cost of raw materials and develop recycling processes.