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AmerCable Incorporated

Articles - ACPs aluminum composite panels

Lightweight Composite Panel - Part I (Part II)

Technology Supporting the Transportation Industry

Sandwich PanelWith fuel prices edging skyward managers and drivers are walking an increasingly fine line to balance output with revenue. Every detail counts. Recent advances in the modern composites industry show hope of providing promising benefits to the transport industry. Manufacturers are using state-of-the-art composite panel technology to engineer a lightweight, high-strength alternative to traditional materials that go into truck building such as aluminum and steel. This translates primarily into higher payload and the potential for reduction in fuel consumption.

The technology isnít a new one though. For years composites or sandwich panels have been used in the manufacture of both civilian and military aircraft and more recently used in racing vehicles, ship building and even specialized architecture. A typical Boeing civil airliner may be comprised of up to 5-15% composite panel, although recently Boeing announced that the new 7E7 would be composed of up to 50% composite, making it ultra light weight while maintaining optimum durability.
The success of composite technology in the aviation field has made it attractive to other industries seeking to apply the benefits. One of the more significant for the trucking profession is that core composite materials measure in much lighter than steel and aluminum with an average weight savings of up to 40% over steel and 20% over aluminum.

At present, composite technology can be applied to body panels and accessories, front-end panels, floor, engine block, cargo liners, vehicle chassis, bumper beams, fuel tank supports, heat-resistant parts such as inlet manifold, cooling modules, and oil panÖ Heavy wood or metal decking on trailers may be replaced with sandwich panel to further shed pounds and leverage added payload and longer trailer deck life. Diversity in the materials used and in the manufacturing process enables composite panels to be fashioned into flat or curved forms that possess one of the highest strength to weight ratios of any structural material available on the market.

Replacing just a class 8 sleeper box with custom manufactured composite panel technology can reduce overall vehicle weight by up to 850 pounds, effectively decreasing gross weight and fluid resistance while increasing payload.
In addition to lightweight composition, the sound dampening and insulation properties create a quiet environment inside the sleeper; corrosion resistance, and overall durability are also high on the ratings scale.
The panels are formed when two materials are combined to create a stronger substance than either of the two base materials on their own. The panels themselves are heated and thermo fused to the matrix or core; the matrix binds together the fibers of the stronger material, called the reinforcement. The reinforcement can be engineered from glass fiber, aramid and carbon whereas the matrix can comprise polyester resins, vinyl ester resins, or epoxy resins, as well as many light fiber materials. The separation of the skins by this low-density core increases the moment of inertia of the beam or panel with very little increase in weight, producing a highly efficient structure...



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