Hillermeier, R., Hasson, T., Friedrich, L., and Ball, C., "Advanced Thermosetting Resin Matrix Technology for Next Generation High Volume Manufacture of Automotive Composite Structures," SAE Technical Paper 2013-01-1176, 2013, doi:10.4271/2013-01-1176.
Composite materials have gained the attention of the automotive industry to substantially reduce vehicle weight, reduce CO₂ emissions and improve the fuel economy of next generation vehicles. Thermosetting matrix technology combined with glass or carbon fiber reinforcements are well suited for structural applications where mostly steel and aluminum are used today. However, the lack of fast production techniques and fast reacting matrix technologies have limited composites use to low volume production models. A new generation of epoxy resin systems has been developed that allows the rapid processing of structural composites for medium to high volume models. These advanced formulations maintain the excellent properties of traditional epoxy-based composites, yet the tested systems can process in a matter of minutes using modern manufacturing technologies such as the high pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) process. The advanced formulations are unique in that they provide a long enough injection window for a robust impregnation of the reinforcing fibers while still enabling an extremely short cure cycle. The results from this development show that structural composite components can be produced economically and in high volume using today's innovative resin and process technology.