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Maclaren Mercedes Benefits from Menzolit’s Advanced CF-SMC

14 January 2005

Menzolit have produced carbon fibre reinforced SMC (CF-SMC) body parts for the 2004 SLR McLaren-Mercedes

The new Mercedes Silberpfeil (Silver Arrow) is being equipped with a rear scuttle panel made of Menzolit’s AdvancedSMC, offering a reduction in weight and improved performance.

Menzolit said that the limiting factor in using CF was that CF composites require costly process technologies, which are not suitable for applications in the range of tens of thousands. The real breakthrough could only happen if the CF material can be moulded in a process, corresponding to standard SMC mouldings.

In order to achieve this challenge, a new material trade named Menzolit AdvancedSMC has been developed, a material which combines the high performance properties of carbon fibres with low manufacturing costs of SMC. The AdvancedSMC can be moulded similar to standard SMC, using heated steel moulds and hydraulic presses.

The development of this technology is the effect of a joint effort of Menzolit-Fibron GmbH, DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG.

Using this technology, AdvancedSMC can be moulded practically waste free (a decisive factor considering the high price of carbon fibres). It shows good flow characteristics, making intricate shapes possible, as it is the case with the scuttle panel. It cures as fast as SMC (below three minutes cycle time) and allows for wall thicknesses below 1.5mm.

Menzolit assert that AdvancedSMC, being a cross-linked thermoset composite, exceeds by far the properties of standard, glass fibre reinforced SMC (higher modulus, lower specific gravity). Compared with sheet metal (steel) panels, a weight saving up to 60 per cent is possible, based on equivalent flexural stiffness.

Menzolit said that components made of AdvancedSMC are even lighter than the same panels made of aluminium, with mechanical properties of AdvancedSMC slightly below high performance composites being used in aviation.