Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Audio Spot: Fiber diet

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 23, 2005 — Automated spraying of carbon or glass fiber could soon provide the most economical way to create preforms in the manufacture of body panels for automobiles, heavy vehicles and other machinery.

Researchers in the Polymer Matrix Composites Group of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are testing and advancing development of a programmable powdered preform process, a robotically actuated machine that sprays fiber and an adhesive powder binder substance to create fiber preforms. The preforms are subsequently injected with resin in a mold and consolidated under pressure to create the final part. The preforming process is the first step in creating polymer composite structural and semi-structural auto panels that reduce the mass of composite automotive structures at a cost competitive with metal parts they are replacing. This results in lighter weight vehicles that are more energy efficient. ORNL is working with the U.S. auto industry and the Automotive Composites Consortium on this technology, which is funded by DOE's Office of FreedomCar and Vehicle Technologies Program. [Contact: Fred Strohl, (865) 574-4165; strohlhf@ornl.gov]

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