During JEC World 2018, Voith introduced its new, fully digital carbon fiber production technology known as the Voith Roving Applicator (VRA). Voith expects the novel manufacturing line to “elevate the industrialization of composites production to a new level.”  According to Voith, the VRA is responsible for producing CFRP rear panels for the new Audi A8, which features an innovative, mixed-material frame.

“With a whole new digital 4.0 production line, we are setting new standards producing carbon fiber parts for high-volume automotive serial production,” said Lars Herbeck, Voith’s managing director of composites. “Our smart factory concept allows the automated production of CFRP components in almost any shape and individual lot sizes.”

The CFRP rear panel is the largest component in the occupant cell of the A8. According to Audi, the CFRP rear panel comprises 33 percent of the torsional rigidity of the total vehicle.

The panel features Zoltek’s PX35 carbon fiber and Dow’s VORAFORCE™ epoxy resin and BETAFORCE™ composite bonding adhesives. VORAFORCE was injected into a carbon fiber preform through a high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) process. Ultra-low viscosity enabled manufacturing of the large, complex part with the ability to integrate added functions. Dow notes that cure times less than 120 seconds and excellent mold release capability provided through an internal mold release additive, ensured mass production capacity. Dow’s BETAFORCE™ composite bonding adhesives, which were used for sub-assembly of the structure as well as part mounting into the body structure, helped retain the integrity of the part by improving torsional stiffness and crash performance.  The result is a fully automated, high-volume production run with capacity for more than 300 parts per day.