Natural fibres in Porsche door panels and spoiler

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The car is claimed to be the first racing car in serial production to use a natural fibre reinforced composite for bodywork components.

Following introduction in serial production in 2016 of its 3.8 litre six-cylinder 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport racing car, Porsche announced in January 2019 availability as from February 2019 of the car for the first time in two versions, “Trackday” for hobby racing drivers and “Competition” for professional racing drivers participating in national and international racing competitions.

Both car versions were developed not only for improved drivability and faster racing track performance, with the engine lower increased by 40 to 425 bhp, but also with a focus on sustainable use of materials. The result, Porsche claims, is the first racing car in serial production to use a natural fibre reinforced plastic (NFRP) composite for bodywork components, namely the driver’s and passenger’s door panels, rear wings, as well as the fixed rear spoiler and its side blades, which is attached by “swan’s neck” connection to the bodywork.

The rear spoiler has aluminium supports and an integrated “Gurney Flap” with tear-off edges in carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). 

The natural fibre reinforced composite is produced with a combination of flax or hemp “biofibres”, from Biocomp, Switzerland which consist mainly of waste materials arising from agricultural activities. Hanover, Germany basedFraunhof HOFZET wood application research centre developed the use of conventional resin transfer moulding (RTM) – but autoclaving for the rear wing.  Porsche claims that the composite achieves “similar weight and stiffness properties” with the biofibre as with carbon fibre reinforced composite materials.

 Porsche says the car, weighing 1,320 kg is a really lightweight one. This is due not only to biofibre composite for the balsa wood sandwich cored door panels, rear wings (both parts submitted to dynamic loads) and the rear spoiler, additionally reinforced by a Biocomp “powerRib” flax fibre lattice, but also to the aluminium monobloque engine, aluminum alloy wheels, a hybrid aluminium/steel solution for the rest of the bodywork and a CFRP steering wheel.

The final design details have not yet been concluded, but Porsche will present the car to the public for the first time in September at IAA 2017 in Frankfurt/Main, with availability in the market scheduled for the end of 2019. Nevertheless, more than 20,000 customers have already taken out options to buy the car.


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