Magna partners with Ford on carbon fiber structural parts

Magna partners with Ford on carbon fiber structural parts

Engineers developing components, manufacturing processes.

March 15, 2017

Sailauf, Germany – Magna International Inc., in cooperation with Ford Motor Co., has developed a prototype carbon fiber composite subframe which reduces mass by 34% compared to a stamped steel equivalent.

By replacing 45 steel parts with two molded and four metallic parts, the prototype subframe reduces the number of parts by 87%. The moldings are joined by adhesive bonding and structural rivets.

The carbon fiber subframe is the result of a research and development project between Magna and Ford to investigate potential mass-reduction benefits and technical challenges of using carbon fiber-reinforced composites in chassis applications. The subframe is a key part of a vehicle's structure, typically providing a place to attach the engine and wheels while also contributing rigidity and crash management.

"When we are able to work in close partnership with a customer at the beginning of their design and engineering processes, it's an opportunity to bring our full Magna capabilities to bear," said Grahame Burrow, president of Magna Exteriors. "We are able to take a clean-sheet approach with design, materials, and processing; collaborate with the customer and within our product groups; and deliver a solution with the potential to really move the needle in terms of aggressive lightweighting without sacrificing styling or performance."

The design has passed all performance requirements based on computer-aided engineering (CAE) analyses. The prototype subframes are now being produced by Magna for component and vehicle-level testing at Ford.

"We must continue to work hard to achieve these lightweight solutions at the most affordable costs. Magna and Ford working together on this carbon fiber composite subframe is a great example of collaboration on advanced materials," said Mike Whitens, director of Vehicle Enterprise Systems at Ford.

The testing phase will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping, and bolt load retention, which aren't currently measured by CAE. The project team will also develop a recommended design, manufacturing, and assembly process with the experience gained during the prototype build and subsequent testing.

"First we launched the CF hood for the Cadillac CTS/ATS-V series, followed by a carbon fiber grille opening reinforcement for the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500,” Burrow said. “Applying our expertise now to a structural component like the subframe is another step forward as we continue to help our OEM partners meet their goals."

Source: Magna International