Has Ford just taken the next big leap in automobile manufacturing? Dubbed by American carmaker as a “miracle material,” graphene is now being used by the company to build lighter, stronger cars with better noise reduction.
Not familiar with graphene? Is this some groundbreaking new innovation? Not exactly.
Graphene, in fact, is already being used to manufacture everyday household items: smartphones, sports equipment, noise-cancelling headphones, and more. Ford, though, says this is the first time the material has been used in such a way in the automotive industry.
If Ford’s claim is true, it’s a head-scratcher how it’s taken this long for a car company to utilize graphene in its production process. The material is ridiculously thin and flexible, a great conductor, and supposedly 200 times more durable than steel. According to the company, foam constituents mixed with graphene showed a 17% reduction in noise, 20% improvement in mechanical properties, and 30% better heat endurance during tests.
“The breakthrough here is not in the material, but in how we are using it,” says Ford senior technical leader Debbie Mielewski. “We are able to use a very small amount, less than a half-percent, to help us achieve significant enhancements in durability, sound resistance, and weight reduction—applications that others have not focused on.”
“A small amount of graphene goes a long way, and in this case, it has a significant effect on sound-absorption qualities,” says John Bull, president of Eagle Industries, a firm that Ford has worked with to achieve this breakthrough.
The material is set to be utilized in more than 10 under-hood components of the Ford F-150 and Mustang by the end of 2018. The company says more vehicles will make use of graphene in the near-future.