With stricter emissions and fuel efficiency standards across the world, carmakers are continuously coming with up creative ways to lighten its vehicles and make them more economical. While various companies have tried to innovate to make this goal a reality, Japanese carmaker Nissan seems to have figured things out. Its weapon of choice — vehicle parts made of carbon fiber.
The use of carbon fiber isn’t new. This light yet very durable material is extensively employed in aerospace and motorsports applications. However, the prohibitive cost and complex production process of carbon fiber make it a rarity as far as regular passenger cars are concerned. But with the greater goal of making its products more fuel-efficient, Nissan now intends to use carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) more on its vehicles’ components.
The Yokohama-based automaker announced that it has found a way to quickly make car parts with carbon fiber-infused plastics. Dubbed the C-RTM or Compression Resin Transfer Molding technology, this breakthrough process speeds up the production of carbon fiber while lowering costs. By understanding and controlling the flow of resin in the mold, carbon-fiber bits are made 80% faster at two minutes from the usual ten.
The result is lighter but stronger parts, which should translate into performance and fuel economy gains. Nissan plans to use this technology to mass-produce CFRP parts for its future vehicles.