Material Marvels: Transforming Industries with Carbon Fibre and Resins

BOLD’s Applied Engineering division is made up of a team with substantial expertise in composite and mechanical components, composite manufacturing, and project engineering. Our team of skilled designers have with a wealth of experience in Formula 1 and Hypercar teams and work with CAE software to optimise composite solutions to suit a variety of complex requirements. Paired with our design-to-manufacture capabilities, we’re geared up to overcome a wide range of challenges.

Working with carbon fibre and resins offers a multitude of benefits, particularly in our mission to help our partners with more sustainable, lightweight solutions. By harnessing the potential of advanced materials, we’re taking technology that has been proven to better performance in the likes of Formula 1 and break into other industrial sectors. Here’s a glimpse into the materials we work with and the advantages they bring.

Carbon fibre composite product for motor sport and automotive racing
Carbon Fibre Composite Product

Ideal for manufacturing structural parts, carbon fibre composites offer high strength-to-weight ratios, enhancing fuel efficiency and performance. Using high modulus fibre in strategic locations of a Hypercar monocoque, we can achieve exceptional torsional rigidity to improve vehicle handling and performance.

For non-structural parts such as interior panels and trim, composite materials can provide a lightweight, durable, and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional materials. A recent project involved the development of a track car, constructed entirely from carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, to achieve a high chassis stiffness at an exceptionally low weight, allowing for record-breaking performance on the track.

Black Carbon Fibre Car Interior

Diamagnetic materials, known for their unique magnetic properties of repelling magnetic fields, are revolutionising the field of energy generation. Using diamagnetic materials, we have developed a prototype electric generator rotor, to improve efficiency as it reduces the friction and resistance typically associated with mechanical generators.

Dielectric material is non-conductive and does not allow the flow of electric current. Effective in its ability to store electrical energy, dielectrics are commonly used in capacitors and electrical insulation applications. This material has proved valuable to cover the likes of antennas to prevent unwanted electrical conduction.

Composite Material Exterior

Resin Matrices for Composite Materials

Resin matrices serve to secure the fibre reinforcement, impart the composite component with its form, and determine its surface finish. A composite matrix can fall into four common categories:

  • A polymeric matrix composite is a material composed of a polymer matrix, such as epoxy or polyester resin, reinforced with fibres or particles to enhance its mechanical properties, making it lightweight and suitable for our clients’ complex applications in aviation and automotive industries.
  • A metal matrix composite consists of a metal alloy or matrix, like aluminium or titanium, strengthened by the incorporation of ceramic or metallic reinforcements. It offers great strength, stiffness, and thermal properties for high-performance applications.
  • A ceramic matrix composite is a composite material that uses a ceramic matrix, like silicon carbide or alumina, combined with ceramic fibres or particles, optimised to withstand high temperatures and harsh environments.
  • A carbon matrixed composite is a composite material in which a carbon composite, is reinforced with carbon fibres, resulting in exceptional lightweight and high-strength properties.

Advantages of working with Composite Materials

Composites offer advantages that extend beyond high-performance industries. As techniques continue to evolve, virtually any sector not engaged in high-volume production can elevate performance by leveraging composites. A diverse range of customised composite materials can enhance capabilities in lightweighting, environmental resilience, chemical resistance, low electrical and magnetic conductivity, as well as high-temperature stability. Read on to delve further into the advantages of working with composite materials.

Replacing Unnecessarily Heavy Materials

One of the primary advantages of working with carbon fibre and resins is substituting unnecessarily heavy materials. By replacing traditional materials like steel and aluminium with fibre reinforced composites like glass fibre, we not only reduce the weight and cost of the final product but also enhance its performance characteristics. A recent project for an automotive client saw us leverage the best of both aluminium extrusions and composite panels. Aluminium extrusions provide sturdy structural support while the composite panels offer lightweight durability and design versatility.

3D Carbon Fibre Texture

Thermal Properties

The thermal properties of a material play a pivotal role in its performance, particularly when exposed to extreme temperatures. Composite materials can resist expansion and contraction under varying thermal conditions, remaining stable even in extreme temperature fluctuations. This stability persists until a critical point is reached, similar to other plastics, where it begins to break down. The secret to its perseverance lies in the combination of carbon fibre and resin in its composition. When these materials are pre-impregnated, moulded, and subjected to heat, they create a robust resin system. This synergy not only imparts strength and stiffness to the material but also enhances its thermal resilience, making it an asset in industries such as aviation where extreme temperature conditions are encountered regularly.

Combined with other materials, composites can be used to dissipate heat or insulate. In some cases, specialised exotic composite materials have been developed to withstand high temperature conditions. Particularly in motorsports, using composites for exhaust systems or heat shields resists heat and maintains strength in racing applications exposed to high temperatures.

Structural Integrity and Durability

Another benefit to working with carbon fibre composites are the stiff and strong fibres. This improves vehicle stiffness, crash resistance, and reduces weight for better handling and fuel economy. Serving clients in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and construction, we require materials that will not only remain structurally sound, but also withstand extremely harsh conditions. Composite materials offer remarkable durability within mechanical applications, providing exceptional longevity, without succumbing to degradation making it the preferred material for applications where long-lasting mechanical performance is paramount.

Safety

Composite materials play a pivotal role in safety. Taking cues from Formula 1, modern vehicles incorporate robust chassis systems that prioritise occupant safety during collisions. Our chassis designs made from high-performance composites often feature CFRP tubes at the rear of the vehicle, proven to enhance passenger safety during crash tests. Due to the exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, the use of composite pillars on car doors, allow for smaller volumes, increasing visibility for the driver.

Composite structures not only reduce the overall weight of the vehicle but also contribute to lowering the centre of gravity, significantly enhacing stability and reducing risk of accidents. By reducing mass and improving weight distribution, these safety-focused design elements have collectively elevated vehicle safety standards.

Composites can also have good fire resistance properties, compared to other lightweight materials. For the battery cases, we use composites with a fire-retardant matrix, both to protect the battery from fire and to avoid a battery fire to propagate outside.

BOLDair Battery made with Carbon Fibre

Complex Shapes

Moulding allows for complex shapes and precision in manufacturing parts like Formula 1 aerodynamic devices, where shape is critical to improve the performances in downforce, drag, engine and brakes cooling, etc.

Carbon Fibre Wing Mirror

Carbon fibre allows us to push the boundaries of design possibilities due to its exceptional flexibility in shaping and forming intricate, complex structures. Its unique combination of strength and lightweight properties allows the realisation of complex shapes, curves, and geometries that enhance both aesthetics and functionality. BOLD’s motorsports projects often involve intricate organic-shaped body panels that offer superior aerodynamic advantages compared to conventional materials.

Corrosion Resistance

Due to its non-metallic composition, carbon fibre has corrosion resistance properties. It has resistance to chemicals, low water absorption, high-temperature stability, and the ability to form a protective surface layer. Unlike metals, carbon fibre doesn’t rust or corrode when exposed to moisture or chemicals.

Sustainable advantages of working with Composite Materials

Enabling Lightweight Components for Electrification

As manufacturers of electrification technology, we’re aware of the challenges that the weight of a battery system can bring. Battery cases must be both strong and lightweight to protect the battery cells while not compromising the vehicle’s performance. By utilising resins and composite materials for battery casing, can offset the weight of batteries and create lightweight components that contribute to the overall efficiency of the vehicle.

We’re working with various clients in an array of demanding industries across land, sea, and air utilising lightweight components wherever possible to offer the lightest battery packs on the market, while maintaining cost-efficiency.

BOLDair Battery with Carbon Fibre Casing

Natural Fibres and Resins Contribute to a Greener Future

By using a revolutionary bio-based resin system, derived from a food waste product, we have crafted battery cases that are not only robust but also environmentally friendly. At BOLD, we have worked on many projects developing Hypercars using a range of bio-based materials. With no hazardous materials, working with natural fibres and bio-based resins not only contribute to safety, but also to the significant reduction in carbon footprint of the overall vehicle.

Embracing eco-friendly options with natural fibres and resins aligns with our shared commitment with clients to achieving a more sustainable and green future. It also allows endless benefits in enhancing the performance and efficiency of vehicles.

Image credit: SHD Composites

At BOLD, composite materials are indispensable for us in our mission to transform industries. Our team of experts are proficient in the design and development of composite components. With roots in the high-performance realms of Formula 1 and Hypercar teams, we have the know how to maximise the potential of composite materials to benefits our clients in weight reduction, enhancing structural integrity, improving aerodynamics, durability, safety, thermal properties. The list goes on.

If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact our team.

Are you an experienced Composite Design Engineer looking for a new challenge?

Whether you’re in Spain or the UK, we have a range of exciting opportunities to work with F1 and Hypercar customers. Check out our open positions to learn more: https://boards.eu.greenhouse.io/boldvaluabletechnology

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