F1 engineers to launch innovative new carbon technology
Innovation
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Jul 2014   |  9:14 am GMT  |  50 comments

Here at JA on F1 we always like a good innovation story and today sees the launch of a new technology which has been evolved by a group of F1 engineers.

They have patented a method of producing a coloured carbon fibre, previously considered to be impossible.

It is called Hypetex, which is set to be used for all kinds of things from car interiors to furniture to bicycles. It will be displayed during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The company behind it has been given a licence by F1 Management to produce merchandise and to use F1 as a platform to engage with automotive and other firms.

Carbon fibre is naturally black and it is impossible to colour it. The best that you can do is to weave it with another coloured fibre to create a mixed black and colour material that can then be processed in the usual way. The result is a muddy, blurred coloured version of traditional carbon fibre. Or it can be painted, as it is currently on F1 cars.

After seven years of R&D the group behind Hypetex have solved the problem.

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Hypetex will launch at the Driving Technological Change exhibition at the Silverstone today before moving on to a display in the F1 Paddock Club during the British Grand Prix weekend.

According to the engineering team behind this new product, “The carbon fibre industry is still growing at an incredibly fast rate, with annual production of the material up to 44,000 tonnes a year. This is set to treble over the next six years as carbon fibre becomes easier to manufacture and distribute.

“With the introduction to the market of Hypetex, which is produced by UK-based GPF One, a new world of possibilities for carbon fibre has opened up.”

It is rumoured that McLaren is in discussions with the firm to use Hypetex for the interior of its new P1 road going super car.

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50 Comments
  1. goonerf1 says:

    My immediate first thought was, that’ll save the weight of paint on F1 cars.

    Nice work.

    1. Danylo Furlani says:

      Me too! I bet at least two and a half pounds of paint weight could be saved.

    2. Ben says:

      With plain white sponsor logos I think that could really good!

    3. IgMi says:

      Let’s not jump to conclusions yet. Let’s see is the colored carbon fibre lighter than the “natural” one that is being painted. But, it is promising, hard to argue that.

  2. Kristiane says:

    Interesting.

    I have a few questions which I’m interested to find know more about:

    1. So with the F1 cars, if the carbon fibre is impossible to paint, how are F1 cars painted?
    2. Has anyone (F1 Technical, or anyone/where) has and clue how did Newey managed to develop his bendy carbon fibre front wing?

    1. James Allen says:

      1. It isn’t impossible to paint, of course the cars are painted. But you lose the look of carbon fibre by doing that

      2. That is amazing. I got some insights from one of the other teams once but even they weren’t certain, it comes from aerospace apparently and has to do with electrical current being run through the carbon which causes it to flex. Something like that!

      1. aveli says:

        so what advantages does this have over the black carbon fibre? is it not like anodised aluminium? it was soon be out of fashion because whatever pigment they add on to make them coloured is matter and has mass and weight.
        i think they would be better off using the same electrolytic principle to fire electrons at carbon fibre to turn it into sheets of diamonds which will be much harder and stronger than carbon fibre for the same mass and weight.

    2. Yak says:

      1. It isn’t impossible to paint carbon fibre and the article doesn’t say it is. It says it was previously thought impossible to produce coloured carbon fibre. Manufacturing the fibre coloured isn’t the same as painting it after it comes out of the autoclave.

      2. Newey doesn’t have a monopoly on flexible wings. All the teams’ wings would flex, just that Red Bull took it to a different level. Carbon fibre composites are strong in the direction of the weave, but weak across the weave. How the sheets are layered will affect how the component flexes or twists under load. Before flexible front wings, the drama was flexible rear wings for a DRS-like effect. (I think) in ’05 or ’06 when (I think) Ferrari were caught out by a rear facing camera that showed the rear wing flexing beyond what was permitted under the rules and subsequently had to make a change.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Close, it was BMW.

  3. Gaz Boy says:

    In my opinion, when John Barnard sat down and decided to design a chassis made from this new wonder material called carbon fibre for the 1981 season (to be soon followed by Lotus), he inadvertently created the biggest breakthrough in Formula 1 safety that was save to many lives – not to mention limbs as well…….
    The carbon fibre monocoque is probably the greatest safety innovation of all time in terms of design construction – it’s light, but fantastically strong and able to absorb impacts so the shock waves are not transmitted to the drivers spine or head for example.

    1. RichB says:

      agree, he was a great designer. his lack of success at Ferrari in the 90′s shouldn’t discredit him, it wasn’t all his fault.

  4. Jock Ulah says:

    HyperboleText – now that’s one planet-saving innovation!
    More please . . .

  5. Neil says:

    Hypetex. This is fantastic in colours. One can imagine a million things it could be used for, it’s strength the big factor.

    I hope its a British Company … its future export value could me very large …. fantastic.

  6. aveli says:

    sounds great but why have they not convinced aeroplane manufacturers to use carbon fibre? 55000 tonnes for the whole world is less than the amount of nail vanish produced in the same period 530000 tons.

    1. Malmac says:

      Boeing 787 Dreamliner is carbon fibre

      1. aveli says:

        carbon fibre was used in planes long before it was introduced to f1. they only use it in specific parts of planes like the lining of engine panels.

    2. Wouter says:

      The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has lots of carbon fibre, 23 tons of it per plane. The Airbus A350 XWB when introduced will also contain lots of it. It currenly is configured with a one piece carbon fibre nose.

      1. aveli says:

        carbon fibre has been around for long enough for majority of planes, trains, cars, boats and buses to be made out of the stuff. only 4400 tons are made every year.
        the stuff is just too expensive to make, involves burning a great deal of fossil fuel to make while there are many more efficient materials available.

      2. aveli says:

        the plane is about 250 tons and only 23 tons of it is made of carbon fibre. that’s less than 10%.
        Over 80% of the materials used in f1 cars is carbon fibre.

      3. aveli says:

        the strength in carbon fibre is one dimensional, it crumbles in other dimensions as we saw in the williams engine cover. a small change in air pressure caused it to explode. the same thing would happen if aeroplanes were made out of carbon fibre. aluminium on the other hand shows all it’s properties equally in all directions.

      4. Lindsay says:

        aveli: You wouldn’t be getting volume (or part counts) and mass confused by any chance, would you?

        Remember that composites typically have a much higher tensile strength than most metals.

        The tub of a car made from CFRP weighs very little. It’s all the other, mostly metal, bits you put in the car that give it its weight. And so it is with aircraft.

        I strongly doubt that 80% of the mass of an F1 car is CFRP.

    3. warley says:

      Even the Boeing 777 from 1994 has a fair bit of c/f – the floor ‘joists’ or whateve they are called and i think the floor panels are carbon. Skin is alloy though.

      1. aveli says:

        that’s true but the vast majority of planes are made from aluminium, the preferred material. carbon fibre on fire is extremely toxic.

      2. Lindsay says:

        There is a toxicity issue with burning composites, but “extremely” is a massive exaggeration.

        Me, I’d be much more worried about the flammability than the toxicity in a crash scenario.

    4. RacingFanatic says:

      Many have begun using carbon, the trouble is (as someone already mentioned) in case of fire it is extremely toxic and the other major issue is that carbon composite material is a lot harder for maintenance to detect faults and wear issues within a plane, that is in comparison to aluminium which is still considered the preferred material by most.

      I do agree with you though that carbon fibre should be used a lot more than it currently is (not just in planes), it all comes down to how damn expensive the stuff is really. I’m sure there are many parts on airplanes that could be made from the stuff without compromising the safety of the craft. The future is exiting :)

      1. aveli says:

        carbon fibre was used in making planes long before it was used to make f1 cars.

  7. Richard says:

    I don’t want to be rude, but…. Carbon fibre is painted on an F1 car, therefore the carbon fibre isn’t black… So isn’t this a bit pointless?

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Painting a carbon fibre F1 car adds weight to the monocoque – not a huge amount, but still significant. I don’t know exactly how much the paint adds to the weight of a chassis, but I think it’s around 5KG. If you told an F1 team you could save 5KG by using this new coloured carbon fibre they’d bite your hand off – all the way upto your shoulders!

      1. aveli says:

        and how will they get sponsorship?

    2. Graeme says:

      Carbon fibre is naturally black, and resists colouring…. Paint adds weight to the car so if the teams could use coloured carbon fibre then they would save weight. Just think back to the very early Mercedes race cars that were painted white, before they stripped off all the paint, and then ran in natural silver/aluminium.

    3. RCF says:

      Coloured carbon fiber would save you weight that a coat of paint would normally add

    4. Andrew Carter says:

      Paint doesn’t change the colour of carbon fibre it just covers it, the carbon itself is still black. And you’ll be amazed at how much paint can weigh, not to mention cost.

  8. Pkara says:

    Wow Impressive technology. You can see this being used in upmarket performance road cars..
    Great that its a British innovation :-).
    The Mclaren P1 on 2015 supercar calendar looking mighty fine. Mayveven be used in performance bikes.

  9. Archie says:

    - Carbon fibre is produced industrially since 1968
    - Coloured (unpainted) carbon can be produced since decades (using coloured resin for the impregnation), we use it in our company, partly with “neon” effect.
    - the mentioned new material is just nice to keep the carbon structure look.

    Just an optical gag,nothing else

  10. giorgio says:

    The next generation material to appear in F1: carbon nanotube.

    1. aveli says:

      sheets of diamond are lighter than carbon fibre and much stronger and harder.

  11. Daniel Silveira says:

    I was hoping it was a low cost mass production of carbon fiber models.
    This would revolutionize our world.

    1. JB says:

      That’s slowly coming into play.
      The Avantador, Huracan, MP4-12C and all new Mclaren cars uses a carbon tub system. Even the Alpha 4C.
      I do not know the exact details of how it is made, but I do know they save time.

      Carbon is not expensive, it is the manufacturing which is.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        They’re all high price/performance super cars. Not exactly low cost manufacturing to knock out you basic super mini.

  12. Jonno says:

    “…given a licence by F1 Management…” You’re having a laff. Since when has Bernie given anything?

    1. Random 79 says:

      He’s given bribes ;)

      1. Peter Scandlyn says:

        ….allegedly…..

      2. Random 79 says:

        I was thinking about adding that myself, but remember Bernie’s court appearance in London a few months back where the judge ruled that he had paid a bribe?

        Flashback

        Even though the bribe wasn’t the issue for that particular hearing I think we’re now pretty safe to leave the allegedly on the shelf.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      Who said it was for free though?

  13. franed says:

    To me it seems that we have forgotten the resin, it is hardly ever mentioned but it is this which gives carbon fibre it’s structural properties.

    It will be graphene that revolutionises technology.
    The area an almost unlimited umber of applications and research is being done many different fields there seem to be tens of new areas every week. http://graphenetimes.com/

    Military airframes, wings, fins etc are also made of composites, which like carbon fibre need to be baked in an autoclave, though here it is thought ceramic fibres are used.

    If only Maurice Ward had been of a different disposition, F1 could have been very different indeed as could a great number of other things.

    1. Dai Dactic says:

      Not quite . . .

      Resin –> Compressive Strength
      Fibre –> Tensile Strength

      [citation needed]

  14. Oudinot says:

    Man, I hope the future returns on this are British….cos I’m darned sure the brains are.

  15. Sasidharan says:

    The effect of ladies entering the sport. Pink Cars for future ;)

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