Continental Structural Plastics (CSP) announced that the manufacturing of the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette’s body will be the first production use of its advanced composite, TCA Ultra Lite. According to CSP and GM, the use of TCA Ultra Lite, a Class A body panel material, shaved 20 pounds from the new Stingray Coupe model.
“In materials engineering, shaving a single pound per car is a significant accomplishment, so saving 20 pounds per car is monumental,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette Chief Engineer. “This is a great example of how Chevrolet is continually looking for innovations that improve performance on Corvette, and could benefit possible future applications.”
The automaker saved weight on a total of 21 body panel assemblies, doors, decklids, quarter panels and fenders, were made with the advanced composite. TCA Ultra Lite saves weight by utilizing treated glass bubbles to substitute some amount of Calcium Carbonate filler. The composite is also combined with vacuum and bonding manufacturing processes for aesthetic appeal.
According to CSP and GM, the material is able to withstand the E-coat process, and passes all OEM paint tests. It also offers higher cost efficiency. For production volumes under 150,000, tooling costs for composites can be as much as 50 to 70 percent less than those for stamping steel or aluminum.
With the use of TCA Ultra Lite, GM continues its long tradition of composites manufacturing. In a 2012 article, GM outlined its 60-year history using advanced materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber for the Corvette. GM’s Dr. J. Gary Smyth will deliver a keynote speech at the 2015 Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX) in October, produced by the American Composites Manufacturers Association and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE), which will include what GM has learned about composites from the evolution of the Corvette.