Ford will be part of the U.S. Government-created Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, aiming to accelerate research and development of low-cost, high-volume carbon fiber for its future products. Watch out BMW, you won't be alone soon.
Ford teamed up with DowAksa, which is a 50/50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.Ş, the world's largest Acrylic Fiber maker based in Turkey. As for Uncle Sam, the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation is part of the larger National Network for Manufacturing Innovation supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. With most of the work taking place in Aachen, Germany, it's a global CFRP effort, just like BMW's own starting in Moses Lake, Washington, and finishing in Leipzig, Germany.
The collaboration between Dow and Ford started back in 2012 and while the Ford GT is the first visible result of their new lightweight strategy, the aim is to overcome the high cost and limited availability of carbon fiber and develop a viable, high-volume manufacturing process to make it accessible for normal people.
Currently, Ford saves weight by using boron steel in the Fiesta and aluminum in the F-150, but this research will look into the use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic parts in mixed material bodies in order to cut the weight of certain parts by more than 50 percent compared to steel.
Needless to say, new ways to recycle composites are also high on Ford's priority list.
Okay. Now image this with a full blue carbon fiber body...
Photo credit: Ford