Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) displayed a part realised as joint R&D between Gemini Composites and Ducati in October of 2019 at the K Show and again earlier this year in May 2022 at JEC World.
The seat support rear frame comprises the entire aft frame of the vehicle, thereby forming an integral part of the chassis. It is designed based on fatigue strength criteria, but also must meet stiffness, static strength and finish requirements. The part developed replaces a cast aluminium component for the Ducati Hypermotard 939, a vehicle designed for both road and off-road racing, and constitutes the main structural support for driver, and optionally passenger and cargo bins.
The rear frame is made from MCC’s Forged Moulding Compound (FMC) material, an advanced version of Carbon Fiber Sheet Moulding Compounds (CFSMC) and, combined with a modified moulding process and a dedicated design philosophy, is capable of yielding parts with properties suitable for primary structural applications.
The forged composite part weighs 0.8kg, while the aluminium one is 1.35kg per side, which represents a total saving of 1.1k, while maintaining the same cost and rate targets for the baseline aluminium component. The total motorcycle weight is 167kg.
“This technology enables Ducati to save 40% weight for the part, and 3% on the overall weight of the motorcycle structure,” said Dr Di Piazza, head of Innovation and R&D Services at Ducati. “This yields lower fuel consumption and emissions, as well as higher handling and better dynamic response of the vehicle.”
Dr Feraboli, CTO and Dr Wade, chief engineer of Gemini performed the design and analysis of the part in conjunction with Ducati, while the tool design and fabrication for the prototypes was performed by Claudio Chiara, owner principal of C.R.C. Model.
As part of the testing process, the motorcycle frame was installed on a mule frame and underwent static and cyclic testing at the Ducati R&D test lab with varying amounts of ballast to simulate the usage on the road. It successfully passed all durability requirements without degradation.
“Mitsubishi was honoured to participate in this project and we look forward to transferring this technology to other vehicles,” Koichi Akiyama, senior engineering manager at Mitsubishi said. “We are convinced FMC will be a great option to replace structural parts which are commonly made by forged or cast aluminium to help reduce weight and increase mobility.”