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Ford turns to chocolate bar to develop lighter plastic components

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April 8, 2011

The MuCell technology inspired by the Aero bar will first appear in Ford vehicle engine co...

The MuCell technology inspired by the Aero bar will first appear in Ford vehicle engine covers

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We've seen the world's first Formula 3 car running on a fuel derived from waste chocolate, and now engineers at Ford have turned to the tasty treat for inspiration to produce lighter plastic parts for Ford's vehicles. Plastic parts have traditionally been a difficult area to save weight without sacrificing strength and durability, but by looking to the Aero chocolate bar they have produced a lighter plastic by introducing gas bubbles into the plastic as it is molded. The result is a microscopic honeycomb structure that Ford says saves weight by reducing the amount of plastic used without compromising the integrity of the part.

Dubbed MuCell, the technology also offers speed and efficiency benefits in the manufacturing process, with lower pressures used to mold the plastic and up to 33 percent more parts produced per hour in comparison to the conventional process. This results in a reduction in energy consumption, manufacturing emissions and cost for the parts produced.

The microscopic honeycomb structure of the MuCell plastic

"We are saving weight in many ways, not just by using this new plastic, because lighter cars handle better, accelerate faster and stop more quickly. For the customer it is win-win, the plastic is 20 per cent lighter without increasing cost or reducing strength and it will help make their Ford better in almost every aspect," said Ford's MuCell technology expert, Carsten Starke.

Ford says the MuCell technology will make its first appearance in engine covers on vehicles such as the Focus, C-MAX, Grand C-MAX, S-MAX, Mondeo and Galaxy in the next few years. The company has committed to a minimum of 100kg weight reduction from even its smallest cars and 300kg from larger cars by 2020 to help cut emissions and fuel use.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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8 Comments

First off Waste Chocolate is an Oxymoron, just ask Camille.

Other than that, sounds like a good idea.

rdinning
8th April, 2011 @ 07:23 am PDT

Yeap, pretty sure this has been done before.

Racqia Dvorak
8th April, 2011 @ 04:30 pm PDT

When I read this I realized two things. First, there's no such thing as 'waste' chocolate, at least in my books, and that someone was going to beat me to the punch in pointing that out. (rdinning)

challengerpilot
8th April, 2011 @ 05:22 pm PDT

Foamed plastics = nothing new, not even for structural use. Gas assisted blow molding of foamed plastics is old news, so is injection molding of foamed plastics.

There are many additives that can be mixed into various plastics to make them foam as they're melted and injected into molds. The trick is getting the mix right, along with temperature, pressure, hold/pack time and several other variables.

As for waste chocolate, to misquote Monty Python, "Every bean is sacred, every bean is great! If a bean is wasted, God gets quite irate!"

Facebook User
8th April, 2011 @ 07:45 pm PDT

Wow, Technology that comes from food. Who'd a thunk it!

Kris Lauer
8th April, 2011 @ 09:39 pm PDT

This technology is about 20 years old. See RMI or FiberForge. Even at first it was twice as strong and half the weight. Ford has re-invented an inferior version. Every year the "little three" are getting smaller. Thank god for Tesla and Aptera.

voluntaryist
9th April, 2011 @ 05:34 pm PDT

Gee ... what a great innovation.

So where is the dual seater car that weighs 200Kg, gets 200km a liter and has batteries as well?

Mr Stiffy
10th April, 2011 @ 07:47 pm PDT

Why didn't they do the decent thing and call it "AeroCell"?

Podzak
18th April, 2012 @ 04:06 am PDT
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