Amidst all the "smart" automotive electronics, direct-injection technologies, and concept vehicles, the Society of Automotive Engineers'(SAE) 2000 World Congress also spotlighted materials advances. Those who made it to Detroit for the March gathering of automotive engineers saw some of the following developments in plastics, metals, and related engineered components.
Plastics hit the road
Opportunities to provide function and parts integration while cutting weight continue to drive plastics into underhood and chassis applications. Examples of both-along with materials for glazing, heads-up displays, and fuel lines-were put on display by DuPont Automotive . For one, the company exhibited North America's largest vibration-welded manifold, a model for the Ford Motor Co.'s 5.4(liter) V-8 engines for the 2000 F-Series, Econoline, Expedition, and Excursion. Made from 16.3 kg of Zytel welding-enhanced nylon, the manifold features a continuous vibration weld that, at four meters long, appears to be the world's longest. Another vibration-welded Zytel manifold, this one from global components supplier Mark IV, uses Zytel in a new dual-plenum design for Ford's 4.6l V-8 for 2000 F-150 and -250 trucks. A 33% glass-filled Zytel nylon 66 has also found a place in an electronic throttle control for the 2000 Ford Transit Van, the European top seller. This electrical control housing integrates several formerly separate components, including a mounting bracket and wire lead frame
... DuPont Dow Elastomers introduced two fluoroelastomers with improved base resistance and high-temperature capabilities for power-train applications. Viton TBR is intended for applications with lubricants and greases-such as wheel bearings and differential seals-and for applications needing total base resistance-such as engine crankshafts, camshafts, and valve stem seals. Viton IBR fits into applications needing more base resistance than standard fluoroelastomers but less than the new TBR grade
...In thermoset news, the Automotive Composites Alliance released a survey that predicts an upcoming 47% increase in the automotive use of reinforced thermoset composites, which will grow from 318.4 million lb this year to 467 million lb by 2004. Key applications for 2000 include SRIM and RRIM components on the Chevrolet 1500 Series 4WD Extended Cab Silverado for a 50 lb weight savings; an SMC pickup box on the 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac for a 20 to 30% reduction in total vehicle mass; an SMS lift gate and cargo door assembly on the 2000 Ford Excursion for a 15% weight savings; and a semi-conductive SMS radiator support assembly on the 2000 Ford Taurus for the elimination of conductive primer
Lightweight wheels in aluminum and steel were the focus of Hayes Lemmerz International 's show display. The company exhibited a new aluminum wheel design with a cast face and rolled rim for a weight savings of 1.5 kg per wheel. A fabricated aluminum alloy wheel, which combines a stamped center with a spun/rolled rim, shaves more than 50% off the weight of conventional cast wheels
... Fishercast , a division of Fisher Gauge Ltd., spotlighted its patented zinc alloy, ACuZinc, which features a 5-6% copper content. With a Brinell hardness of 118, a tensile strength up to 50% higher than traditional zinc alloys, and good creep resistance and lubricity, it's intended as a higher-performing replacement for zinc-aluminum alloys in a variety of structural components. Recent examples include a miniature horizontal drive gear with an acme screw thread and cross-axis helical gear, a drive rack for automotive seating, and a hub and slide for a lock set's thumb latch mechanism
... MSC Laminates and Composites Inc . exhibited its weight- and noise-reducing Quiet Steel, which sandwiches a 25-micron polymer core between two metal skins. Long accepted for powertrain applications, the material has now made its way into a body-in-white application as dash-panel bolsters for Ford's 2001 Explorer Sport Trac. To better support body applications, the company recently commissioned a new line for 72-inch wide coils
...As an alternative to aluminum, CuproBraze, a brazing technology that joins copper and brass, seems poised to take over at least some of the market for heat-transfer components such as auto radiators or charge air coolers. Developed by the International Copper Association , the CuproBraze process is currently the subject of more than 50 testing initiatives worldwide (Circle 569) .