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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Carbon-fiber MacPherson strut concept by ZF

German auto parts supplier ZF has developed a concept Carbon-fiber MacPherson strut. The concept pictured above is designed specifically for European microcars, the smallest and cheapest cars out there. The lightweight strut is one of the cooler uses of carbon fiber and foretells the democratization of carbon fiber that we expect in the next ten years.

The MacPherson assembly boasts an integrated wheel carrier and piston rod made from carbon fiber, along with a fiberglass spring and plastic top mounting plate. Beneath the carbon fiber structural elements, there is still a damper tube made from steel to provide a durable wear surface. Total weight savings amount to 6.5 to 9 pounds at each corner, according to ZF.

The concept can easily be adapted to larger vehicles, but the original design is only able to accommodate cars that weigh less than 1000 kg. How will automakers afford to use one of the most expensive materials on the cheapest cars? ZF says fewer parts and reduced assembly complexity mean a carbon-fiber strut could have a comparable cost to the traditional suspension assembly. If they’re right, we could see this technology showing up by 2014.

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