Ford will donate $5 million and become the first automotive OEM announced at the top membership level for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, the institute announced Friday.
Honda, Volkswagen and 3-D printed car manufacturer Local Motors have joined the Composites Institute at the $1 million premium level. The institute is a joint project of such private partners, the University of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Ford has a proven track record for success in recent automotive advancements—by implementing lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum to reduce vehicle weight,” institute CEO Craig Blue said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with a global, forward-thinking innovator to continue an impactful trajectory in the automotive and manufacturing industry.
“In line with our Sustainability strategy, our goal is to work with the entire vehicle supply chain to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions through the use of advanced composites,” Blanchard said in a statement.
The donations give a glimpse of who’s thinking about carbon fiber and other composites (for example, fiberglass), materials in which fibers or particles of a solid are suspended in a resin matrix. The resin cures and hardens around the fibers, making for a strong, but light material. (Technically, carbon fiber is a misnomer; the true term for the composite material is actually carbon-fiber reinforced polymer/plastic, or CFRP.)
“Ford and IACMI are working together to produce pioneering processes that will use carbon fiber and other advanced composites to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, making the next generation of vehicles even better for the environment,” Ford wrote in a news release. “Ford’s sustainability strategy sets near, mid- and long-term goals for significant reductions in the company’s global environment footprint with the use of new technologies, business models and partnerships, such as with IACMI.”
Ford called its new GT supercar “a low-volume test bed for Ford’s work with composites such as carbon fiber, cutting the weight of parts by as much as 60 percent compared to steel.”