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Carbon-fiber composite adds power to auto manifold.

The first auto intake manifold molded of continuous carbon-fiber and thermoplastic provides more horsepower and 75% lower weight than metal aftermarket manifolds. Produced by Diaphorm Technologies, LLC, Salem, N.H., the new FiberTuned manifold is aimed at the "tuner" market for enhanced-performance auto customization. According to Diaphorm president Robert M. Miller, it offers high strength with very low weight, plus the "carbon-fiber look" prized by this market.

The first FiberTuned manifold is designed for the Honda H22 engine. With bonded aluminum plates and ports, it weighs only 4.5 lb, or 11 lb less than a metal manifold. Its larger internal volume and improved air flow provide a 13-hp increase over metal aftermarket manifolds. Its wall thickness of just 0.080 in. withstands internal pressures up to 60 psi.

The manifold is molded in two pieces that are adhesively bonded. (The parting line is just above the logo in the photo.) The material is a fabric of 60% stretch-broken carbon-fiber tows co-woven with 40% nylon 12 fiber. It is produced by Schappe Techniques in Charnoz, France.

The manifold is hot-press molded at low pressure in matched aluminum tooling using an internal-pressure-generating mechanism, which includes an inflatable bladder. The fabric is not preheated prior to lay-up in the press, but heat from the tool causes the nylon fibers to melt and wet out the carbon tows. Overall cycle time is under 30 min. The tools accept interchangeable parts for quick, inexpensive modification to mold different manifold models.

The manifold reportedly involves more complex shapes than have been seen before in continuous-fiber thermoplastic composites, and is formed without cutting or darting the fabric. "Heretofore, you could find such intricate shapes only in custom hand lay-ups," says Miller. Diaphorm: (603) 893-0992/ * Schappe: +33 474 46 3100/

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Title Annotation:KEEPING UP WITH: Composites
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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