Bees Inspire Lightweight Honeycomb Cargo Shelf in New Ford Ecosport

21st February 2017

Ford has released details of the innovative parcel shelf used in its new Ecosport SUV model. The shelf uses a recycled paper honeycomb material that gives the shelf its very high strength but low weight.

“The hexagonal design of honeycomb is a testament to nature’s ingenuity,” says Mike Mazzella, Ford EcoSport assistant chief engineer. “Not only is it strong, it’s superlight. Customers can slide the shelf into multiple different slots like an oven rack; even store it on the back of the seats. It helps make EcoSport super-flexible in everyday use.”

Resin-reinforced honeycomb has a truly phenomenal strength-to-weight ratio. The shelf weighs a scant 6 pounds (2.7kg), yet it is rated to handle nearly 700 pounds (318kg) across a 38.5-inch by 25.25-inch surface. In other words, this slip of a shelf can hold surprisingly heavy items with Ford giving the example of five bags of concrete mix (94 pounds each).

For years, honeycomb has been used to create the strong structure under the skins employed in high-end sporting equipment like skis, as well as aerospace frames. To create the adjustable floorboard for the all-new Ford EcoSport, a layer of hexagon-shaped cells made of 100 percent recycled paper and water-based glue is sandwiched between two layers of composite material. It’s able to hold more than 100 times its six pound weight in cargo.