MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH counts BMW, Audi, Airbus, the German government and many other organizations as supporters, and it's researching how to make carbon fiber cheaper to produce, according to Automotive News Europe. The company thinks it can reduce costs by 90 percent in the near future. "We've certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts," said project head Klaus Drechsler to Automotive News Europe.
Unfortunately, it isn't entirely clear just what MAI Carbon is doing to make such a huge leap possible. However, a recent post on the company's website talks about a new form a carbon fiber using a thermoplastic matrix that could be cured in less than three minutes. That's compared to about 90 minutes in the traditional process with an autoclave.
The news of cheaper carbon fiber is especially welcome to companies like BMW that are already pushing its use forward. The automaker is already investing $100 million to triple capacity at its Moses Lake, WA, joint venture factory through 2015, and promises to bring the lightweight material to more models in the future.