Move Over Metal: Plastic and Carbon Fiber Combine to Create a Greater Gear

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Metal is king in the world of car construction. Its strength and durability have made it the go-to material for parts production since the Benz-Patent Motorwagen rolled out on steel-spoked wheels back in 1886. But the times, they are a changin’. And cars are required to do a lot more these days than simply go, go, go.

That’s why, in an effort to make cars that much lighter, and subsequently more cost and fuel efficient, a batch of Japanese brainiacs, hatched from The Center for Advanced Die Engineering and Technology at Gifu University and Central Fine Tool Co. Ltd., called on the caped-composite, a.k.a carbon fiber, to help drop some of those unnecessary pounds and further propel car creation into its inevitably slimmer future.

Starting with a plastic cog, they knew that plastic alone wouldn’t be strong enough to endure the amount of tensile stress applied when the tooth of one cog comes into contact with the core of another. (As depicted in the following illustration.)

Gear Wheel Illustration

So, in order to lengthen its overall lifespan, and add some much-needed strength and sustainability, the team took a thin layer of carbon fiber and integrated it into the plastic so that all the angles and corners of the cog would be well-fortified. (As seen below.)

Carbon Fiber Teeth

Not only that but, since only a small slice of the composite is required for each iteration, production costs are presumed to drop significantly when compared to the more traditional style of carbon fiber reinforced plastics — and even more when compared to their all-metallic counterparts.

Patents for the product have already been applied for. So far though, only a single sample has been produced. (They’re still experimenting, finding out more about the finance, form and functionality of the item.)

With any luck, the cogs will be commercialized by March of 2017.

[Source: Nikkei Technology ]

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