Use of compression molding by auto industry picks up in 2019

Composites have been steadily making inroads into the automotive industry for years now. However, this year may see more composite components hitting the road than any other. Many composite parts are being developed or produced for 2019 vehicle models, and compression molding is one of the composite component production processes being used to create these parts.

Some of the composite auto components produced with compression molding

Composite components have seen increased use in the auto industry primarily because vehicle manufacturers are always looking for new ways to increase the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, and the light weight of composites makes them ideal for this purpose. One way the automobile industry is cranking out the composite components it needs is with compression molding.

Compression molding is one of the more common processes used to make composite products. The process involves placing resin-impregnated composite materials into a mold. The mold already has a die that provides for the final shape of the part. Once the composite material is placed into the mold, the mold is closed, and pressure is applied to allow the materials to take on the shape of the die. The mold is then heated to between 250 degrees Fahrenheit and 400 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the parameters of the composite materials and the part being produced. The compression and heat combine to allow the composite part in the mold to cure in a time of between one to five minutes. This process is heavily used by the automotive industry because the short cure time allows many parts to be produced very quickly, which is vital for mass automobile production.

Compression-molded composite parts are so popular that even high-end auto manufacturers are using them in their 2019 models. For instance, Porsche is using a compression-molded brake pedal in the 2019 model of its 918 Spyder. Other compression-molded composite components that are being used in or developed for 2019 vehicles include:

  • Seat backs and head rests
  • Backseat load-through components
  • Airbag housings
  • B pillars
  • Door crossbeams
  • Bumper beams
  • Large floor components

With such a wide array of components, it’s clear that compression-molded composite parts will be well represented in this year’s vehicles. It’s also likely that their lightness, strength and ease to manufacture will make compression-molded parts a fixture in the automotive industry for many years to come.

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