I got an email from Steve over the weekend saying that he’s an avid reader of the blog and he had a question for me. Then he said “Feel free to reply directly to this email address or, if you wish to, post a response for general education using the RealJDM blog”
So I thought why not…I’m going to reply anyway. If you understand what Hybrid Aero is, please skip on to another post.
Q: I’m contacting you to ask a specific question. I know that Ings+1 makes top tier aero/exterior style parts but i don’t know much about Hybrid Aero. Could you please school me on what makes Hybrid Aero based items a premium product over more typical FRP products from Ings, Vertex, J-Blood, URAS, MSport, DMax, SexyStyle et al?
A: Hybrid Aero is Ings+1’s brand name for something very similar in concept to what C-West refers to as PFRP. The concept is simply fiberglass that has the movement characteristics of urethane. Not many companies offer a flexible FRP, but Ings and C-West have made it very popular for their applications. Although it might seem like all positive advantages, there are indeed pros and cons.
Durability is clearly enhanced when the product (lets say a front bumper) has flex additive in it and can adjust its shape upon impact. However it should be noted that the paint must also be as flexible as the bumper or else you’re looking at a repaint job every time you want to “use” the hybrid part of the aero.
Secondly if you look more closely you’ll notice that race only parts from Ings like their Stream Z bumper for example are not offered in Hybrid Aero. In racing situations rigidity are important and flex is a disadvantage, thus the idea of using Hybrid Aero or Urethane for a race car is usually not a good idea.
In short, if you’re driving a car on the street then Hybrid Aero or equivalent is a nice added safety measure to safeguard your investment, all with little downside. For that reason whenever we stock Ings or C-West parts we usually only stock street application parts in Hybrid, its simply most popular for street cars and with good reason.
The risk of buying Urethane or hybrid type parts from other companies is that the chemicals/production process make it at risk for warping or losing shape during changes in heat/climate and also with age. Even in the case of higher end product like Ings it’s been warned that storage in hot temperature or prolonged storage may risk the shape changing slightly. In short, be cautious about the quality of the parts and who the manufacturer is. When dealing with polyurethane type products the production process can make all of the difference between whether the fitment is good the first time and also whether the fitment will still be good years later (the two are not always the same thing).
I learned a lot of this through my work as Kenstyle USA since Kenstyle produces a couple of their parts in Urethane (350Z) and the discussion came up with why their Urethane parts are so damn expensive compared to other companies urethane parts. The answer, Kenstyle uses an OEM production method for Urethane whereas other companies utilize cheaper aftermarket methods which produce a flexible part but one that doesnt fit perfect and hold it’s shape perfectly. In Kenstyle’s case the majority of their sales are through dealerships as factory optional parts, so they cant risk fitting not being 100% dead on every time. Other aftermarket brands can sell Urethane at a cheap price knowing that fit is acceptable but not perfect/OEM.
As usual there is a trade off in everything, so choose what’s right for you. Often the only way to avoid a trade off in quality is to pay a lot more money and go for the upper echelon products.
To conclude, I’ve talked to a lot of companies over the years about the pros/cons of hybrid, FRP, urethane, ABS, etc. Many companies have different opinions and all for valid reasons. It’s really a decision for each individual based on their needs. For many good reasons, high quality hand laid FRP is still the #1 choice by most tuning shops and factory optional parts suppliers. But even then, keep in mind that not all FRP is created equal either. As usual…the more you know, the more you learn how much you dont know. At this stage, I dont know a lot, thats for sure…but I knew enough to ramble this off of the top of my head in response to your question. Hopefully it helps.
Hybrid Aero means: aero parts with a hybrid of characteristics between fiberglass and urethane
PFRP means: polyurethane fiberglass reinforced plastic, AKA urethane infused FRP