It’s not the sexiest award ever given to the Corvette C7, but owners of the 2016 Stingray and Z06 should still be grateful that some very smart scientists used their brains to make their cars better.
General Motors captured first place in a category at the Society of Plastic Engineers’ automotive division last week.
The winners, including the Corvette, were honored at the annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala held Nov. 11 in Livonia, Mich.
GM was cited in the materials category, winning for the class A body panels manufactured with the innovative TCA Ultra Lite composite material from Continental Structural Plastics, with the toolmakers being Century Tool & Gage and Paragon Die & Engineering Co.
The process is complicated, but basically CSP came up with a sheet molding compound where the calcium carbonate filler was replaced with glass microspheres. In simple language, the new process is responsible for slicing a whopping 20 pounds off the Stingray coupe’s weight for the 2016 model.
Furthermore, the new body panels are cost competitive with the old ones “and at par with strength and finish properties,” according to CSP’s Probir Guha, vice president of advanced research and development.In addition, tooling costs are low for low runs like the Corvette, with the new material lowering tooling costs by as much as 50 to 70 percent compared to steel or aluminum.
In all, 21 body panels in the 2016 Corvette use the new Ultra Lite compound, including doors, decklids, quarter panels, and fenders.
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