CFRP Parts for BMW Models
Uniformly Impregnated Surface
The new BMW i-series vehicles owe their low overall weight chiefly to the fact that the passenger cell is made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). This high-tech material imbues a given part with at least the equivalent level of rigidity but is 50 % lighter than steel and 30 % lighter than aluminum. Benteler-SGL Automotive Composites, a joint venture of Benteler Automotive GmbH, Paderborn, Germany, and SGL Group, Wiesbaden, Germany, produces more than ten CFRP components for the BMW i8 and i3 models on a new production plant in the Austrian town of Ried im Innkreis.
The turnkey, fully automated production plant was supplied to Benteler-SGL by Cannon Germany in cooperation with Cannon Ergos. It comprises:
- a high-pressure Estrim series dosing unit for applying epoxy resin by the LLD method,
- two 1,000 ton presses for fast polymerization of parts,
- five handling robots for carbon fiber and finished parts, and
- the whole set of electronic controls, safety devices, and storage facilities for raw materials.
In the Cannon LLD method (“Liquid Lay Down”), the liquid epoxy resin is laid down over the carbon fiber reinforcement. The sandwich of various layers of carbon fibers is wetted with a uniform film of liquid which impregnates the entire surface. As there is no in-mold flow of resin from the mixing head, the LLD method substantially lowers the counter-pressure in the mold, thereby reducing both capital investment in presses, molds and clamping presses as well as ongoing production costs (due to lower energy consumption).
The high-pressure mixing heads used for the Estrim technology support the use of fast-acting formulations – parts can be demolded after three minutes, a cycle time that is acceptable to the automotive industry. Another important aspect is the scope for processing recycled carbon fibers, from pre-forming and trimming scrap generated in the same plant or from other CFRP production units. Using recycled material generates considerable savings and helps to resolve major environmental and waste disposal problems.
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