A specially formulated glass- and carbon-fibre epoxy resin system from Hexion processed at its Combined Composite Technologies (CCT) business unit based in Fareham, UK, is helping Lotus take lighter, faster sports cars to the next level. Hexion’s custom resin system, along with CCT’s novel process for producing the composite automotive panels on the Lotus 3-Eleven, has resulted in weight savings of 40 percent over other Lotus models.
The lightweight body panels enable the high-performance road car to weigh in at under 900 kilograms, with a power to weight ratio in excess of 500 horsepower per ton. The 3-Eleven is capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds and can reach speeds of 180 miles per hour.
The key to the lightweight panels is a bespoke resin infusion composite process from Hexion. A preform binder is applied during the layup of glass fibre reinforcement in panel moulds to fixate the fibre in the desired shapes. Then the heated mould tools are pressurised and infused with a custom epoxy resin system at high pressure. By closely controlling the temperature, flow and pressure of the resin through the moulds, Hexion’s process minimises the amount of resin required – reducing panel weight –while maximising quality and finish.
“This new process is a first for a production car, and an example of Lotus’ focus on utilising pioneering new technology and lightweight materials in its vehicles,” says Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Lotus. “The choice of Hexion’s material technology has allowed extreme vehicle performance targets to be met and helped us realise the 3-Eleven’s dynamic styling.”
“We’re proud to be working together with Lotus to make the 3-Eleven faster and lighter and bring this dramatic car to life,“ says Paul Collier, Managing Director of Hexion’s CCT in the UK.