APPLICATIONS

Company Carbonautica specialises in the design and manufacture ...

Applications

Marine

Boat designers use advanced composites to make boats lighter, stronger and more efficient. A monocoque hull shell solution is widely used for race boats, deck components, masts, spinnaker poles and steering wheels. Carbonautica steering wheels were the first solely monocoque composite wheels on the market.

Aircraft

In times gone by aircraft were built up from an internal frame, typically of wood or steel tubing, which was then covered (or skinned) with fabric to give it a smooth surface. The materials varied; some builders used sheet metal or plywood for the skin. In all of these designs the idea of a load-bearing structure under a skin remained.

By the late 1920s many manufacturers started using aluminum to replace the internal framing, and in some cases, the external skin. The structure of the plane consisted of a latticework of U-shaped aluminum beams, with a thin skin of aluminum riveted to it.

When these designs started appearing it was realized that the skin itself had significant structural properties of its own. Combining structural skin with a greatly reduced internal framing to provide strength against buckling in compression led to what is known as "semi-monocoque".

The result was a structure that was just as strong as ones made with older methods, but weighed considerably less. As well, the monocoque structure has high torsion stiffness, important in reducing aero elastic effects as aircraft speeds increased. At the beginning of World War II the technique was just starting to appear, and many aircraft still used mixed construction. By the end, all planes were monocoque.

Automobiles

The first automotive application of the monocoque technique was 1923's Lancia Lambda. Chrysler and Citroen built the first mass-produced monocoque vehicles, both in 1934, with the innovative Chrysler Airflow and the Traction Avant, respectively. The popular Volkswagen Beetle also used a semi-monocoque body (its frame required the body for support) in 1938.

In the post-war period the technique became more widely used. The Alec Issigonis designed Morris Minor of 1948 featured a monocoque body. The Ford Consul introduced an evolution called unit body or unibody. In this system, separate body panels are still used but are bolted to a monocoque body-shell. Spot welded unibody construction is now the dominant technique in automobiles, though some vehicles (particularly trucks) still use the older bodyon- frame technique.

In automobiles, it is common to see true monocoque frames, where the structural members around the window and door frames are built by folding the skin material several times. Compared to older techniques, in which a body is bolted to a frame, monocoque cars are less expensive and stronger.

Bicycles

Some racing bicycles are using carbon fibre Monocoque diamond frames, in order to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle. Many high end frames for road bikes and mountain bikes are made of monocoque carbon fibre reinforced composite. Also, many road bikes made of aluminum have carbon fibre reinforced composite seat posts, handlebars and forks for reduced weight. Carbonautica have been producing competition bike frames and forks for many years.