The announcement of a $15m manufacturing research and development project, facilitated by the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), signals the future for the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.

The project, awarded to IFM and industry partner Carbon Revolution in 2018, is funded until mid 2020 and will cover many different areas of carbon fibre composite materials and manufacturing. Specifically, these areas are new high temperature resin systems, low cost carbon fibre, preforming, inner core materials, surface finish, thermal protection, high pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) and Industry 4.0 initiatives.

Overall, the objectives are to develop materials and processes more suitable for high-volume manufacturing, which is a challenge for any carbon fibre product and particularly for a carbon fibre automotive wheel.

A unique aspect of the project is having the Deakin/IFM team based at the Carbon Revolution facility on the Deakin campus. This ensures a close alignment with a rapidly growing, high technology company that is a world leader in carbon fibre wheels for automotive applications. Vehicle manufacturers globally have shown a strong interest in accessing this technology, both for its efficiency and performance benefits, as well as its marketing impact.

The team in place to deliver this project are specialists from a variety of different areas, both local and international.

By being based onsite at Carbon Revolution, the researchers can collaborate closely with the product, materials and manufacturing teams, conduct real world trials and get rapid feedback about whether something is viable, while at the same time being able to utilise the world class facilities and expertise within the composites group at IFM.

Already the project has made inroads into a number of different areas with some promising results. It is expected some of this development work will be incorporated into future production carbon fibre wheels and be part of the continued innovation at Carbon Revolution.

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