Ford is using a reinforced polypropylene made from recycled carbon fiber in the 2018 Explorer sport-utility vehicle (SUV) for the rigid portion of an “A” pillar bracket.
The material can be used with existing tooling and is compatible with thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), a new soft material for the application. Significant improvements in coefficient of linear thermal expansion are achieved, according to Ford engineers. The carbon fiber is recycled from airplane bodies, bicycles, and other sources.
The new hard/soft material system is described as more cost-effective for carbon fiber-based applications on exterior and interior trim parts. This new material usage resulted in a 14 percent component weight reduction and $186,000 annual savings.
The part is made by the Windsor Mold Group and the carbon composite is Borealis Fibermod CB061SY PP. The previous rigid material was ASA.
The part is a finalist in the 2017 SPE Automotive design competition.