If I’d told you years ago that the Ford F150 would be made of aluminum, you wouldn’t have believed me. Aluminum was an exotic material used for building Aston Martins, Audi R8’s, and other super car dream machines.
Now for a mere $36,000 you can buy yourself a hard working, all aluminum bodied pickup truck, and it is all in the name of weight reduction. Ford is changing the auto body repair game with this truck. In fact, when news of the new Ford F150 hit the collision repair world, it worried shop owners.
The reason is you can’t repair aluminum with the same tools and in the same room as steel cars. And we all know that most cars are made of steel.
So what about carbon fiber?
Ford has once again shocked the auto repair and the car-buying world when theyannounced on April 17th, 2015 that it would work with DowAksa to develop cost-effective carbon fiber for the mass production of cars and trucks.
Just like the pioneering use of aluminum in mass produced cars and trucks, Ford said the carbon fiber materials will play a significant role in their push to make vehicles lighter for better fuel efficiency, stronger for safety, and boost performance and capability.
“This joint development agreement reinforces Ford’s commitment to our partnership with DowAksa, and our drive to bring carbon fiber components to the broader market,” said Mike Whitens, director of Vehicle Enterprise Sciences for Ford Research & Advanced Engineering.
“The goal of our work here fits within the company’s Blueprint for Sustainability, where future Ford vehicles will be lighter with optimized performance that would help consumers further improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.”
The joint development agreement allows the companies to collaboratively generate new, lower-cost automotive grades of carbon fiber that can be applied to aligned and random fiber formats while maintaining compatibility with both thermoset and thermoplastic matrices.
So with this news, Ford is putting repair shops on notice; evolve, learn, prepare, or get left behind. Small body shops will not be able to repair aluminum vehicles because it takes specialized training, tools, and a significant investment in the facility.
Carbon fiber is even further opposed to steel. You can’t weld carbon fiber, you can’t heat form it, and it could pose problems that body shops haven’t even thought of yet.
However, at 3D Auto Body & Collision Centers, we built our business on innovation and looking into the future. When Ford, Chevy, Toyota or any other manufacturers begin building their cars out of carbon fiber, 3D will be ready to start fixing them.