By reducing the need for secondary finishing, the supplier is able to speed production of this single part from a 90- to 120-second cycle to a 45- to 50-second cycle, a time savings that helps lower the overall cost of using a high-performance material.
Today, DPA sources the honeycomb core independently of the skins, but Tomasz Czarnecki, COO of EconCore, predicts that this process could be further streamlined by molding all panel components at a single location. “In the future, subject to high enough production volume, the compression molding step can be integrated with the continuous honeycomb sandwich panel production,” he says.
Czarnecki estimates that one high-capacity honeycomb line can create products for 10 or more different car models, a flexibility that adds to the solution’s overall value.
There’s one more notable benefit for the new Creta – a 20% reduction in weight by using the honeycomb trunk floor compared to the material used in earlier models. By using less material, the component reduces its weight and its impact on the environment. This part pushes environmental friendliness further as well.
“Our product, and the thermoplastic finishing carpets that automotive parts require for decorations, are recyclable,” Czarnecki explains. “Upon molding and integration of the carpets into the sandwich structure, they are not contaminated by other materials such as polyurethanes or thermoset glues, so at the end of the product’s life they can be fully recycled.” He adds that in certain cases, when the carpet and panel are made of the same thermoplastic material, the company can further simplify the recycling process and avoid any mechanical separation of components.
The production team is considering using ThermHex recycled PET thermoplastic honeycomb core in future iterations to further improve upon the product’s environmental friendliness.
CarbonPro Sees Mass Production
Rapid production speed is also a key benefit for the carbon fiber pickup bed first launched on General Motors’ 2019 Sierra Denali 1500 and Sierra AT4 1500, although that’s hardly been the focus of pickup enthusiasts. Advertising has focused on the fact that the lightweight CarbonPro box offers 10 times greater impact resistance than its steel counterparts, allowing it to stand up to hurricane Category 1 projectile testing. Early testing of the carbon fiber composite included dropping heavy loads, from cinder blocks to 450-pound water-filled steel drums, into the bed. The steel drums took a beating, but left little impact on the tough composite material.