When Toyota first introduced their LFA super car in 2010 one of the highlights of the vehicle was their new manufacturing process, specifically a new way of producing carbon fiber. Instead of layering sheets of carbon fiber and then injecting resin, they had gone back to their heritage as a loom building company and created a carbon loom. Individual carbon fibers are woven together to create a stronger yet lighter panel. The video below details the process that they created.
Now 3 years later we have seen this technology trickle down to road bike development. BMC has taken this carbon loom process and combined it with a new way of joining the parts of the frame to create the Impec called the Shell Node Concept. As BMC explains it, “The frame joints of the impec each consist of two half-shells which are bonded with the frame tubes in the final assembly with absolute precision”. More detail on the processes here.
So what does this all mean? We will have to get a hands on look at the Impec along with race results to see what they have created. However regardless of the results of the Impec itself we can look forward to this type of innovation having a long term impact on frame and component development. Toyota feels that loom based carbon fiber will allow eventually allow easier and faster construction of components. One can hope that processes like this will one day help to drive down the cost of carbon fiber components back to where they are more accessible to the every day cyclist.