KWM set about developing a carbon composite vehicle platform using thermoplastic materials and innovative manufacturing methods.
- Carbon composite chassis structures are known as being superior to other approaches for reasons of weight, strength, stiffness and thermal management.
- However, conventional CFRP thermosets as traditionally used in motorsport are expensive to process, labour intensive and critically not easily recyclable – a key requirement in the automotive industry.
- The ToPCaT programme aimed to produce a carbon composite vehicle platform for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
The key technical requirements of the programme were:
- Performance parity with traditional composite chassis.
- Low tooling costs.
- Modular construction.
- Repeatable manufacturing process.
In comparison to traditional thermoset manufacture, ToPCaT demonstrated the following benefits:
- Tooling costs: 96% cheaper
- Unit cost: 41% cheaper
- Cycle time: 83% shorter
- Recyclability: Fully (including second life).