Advanced composite underbody braces (available as a performance upgrade for all C7 Corvettes) reduce weight and increase flexural stiffness versus aluminum.
In 2016, Avient - which, at the time, was operating as PolyOne - announced development of a lightweight, carbon fiber-reinforced underbody brace, which is offered as a performance upgrade for the C7 generation of General Motors’ popular Chevrolet Corvette sports car.
The Glasforms business unit formulated a carbon-fiber-reinforced composite material for the C7 Corvette Z06 and non-Z06 underbody braces. The braces reduced weight and retained torsional stiffness versus the production aluminum versions while also increasing flexural stiffness for improved structural integrity and long-term fatigue strength. Avient produced the continuous composite-profile braces using pultrusion technology.
Initially, the Avient team evaluated several composite types and identified a solution with optimal performance. The carbon fiber-reinforced composite part was 17% lighter than the stock aluminum part, and the composite held up well in GM's extensive vibration, shake and road test regimen.
Weight savings—combined with high performance—are key in the automotive industry. Lighter weight not only helps make performance cars faster, but also corresponds to better fuel efficiency in all vehicle types. General Motors uses the Corvette as a validation vehicle for many of its new technologies, including new, lightweight composites.
The Corvette Z06 won the 2015 Car and Driver Lightning Lap with the fastest speed, which also ranked as the second fastest lap time in the history of the event.
# # #
Image courtesy of General Motors
Caption: Advanced composite underbody braces from PolyOne are available as a performance upgrade for all C7 Corvettes.