A unique government-industry research consortium in Germany is producing interesting
new materials technology, including a new silicone adhesive sealant for rapidly
emerging plastic oil plans.
The new adhesives replace solid gaskets, further extending the
significant weight savings (around 40 percent) offered by injection molded
pans, which have been under development in the U.S. and Europe for more than 20
years, but are just now breaking through into major production models.
DuPont and BASF have been leaders in developing plastic oil pans, and
both companies have developed specialized grades of engineering plastics to
meet the demand.
"Our selection of a particularly high-melt flow grade of Zytel
nylon resin meant that we were able to manage the long flow distances at a
comparably low injection pressure and despite some very low wall
thicknesses," says Ralf Franz, development engineer at ElringKlinger, a
German auto supplier.
Ford Motor is now using the first plastic oil pan designed for full
exposure to the road environment and optimized to withstand road chemicals and
stone impacts. A special waffle-design ribbing pattern can take multiple
impacts unlike earlier plastic designs with sacrificial ribs.
BASF joined with Wacker in a Berlin-based research imitative called
INPRO to develop an adhesive so strong that the integrity of the oil pan seal
with aluminum engine blocks works under all common testing conditions. The
tests included storage in oil and in a blow-by medium (a condensate found in
the crankcase of gasoline engines) and thermal shock tests between temperatures
of -40 and 150C.
Removal of the solid gasket and a number of screw joints translates into
cost savings of 20 to 25 percent per oil pan. Importantly, the flange geometry
is free of stresses. Compressive forces can develop when using a vulcanizable
sealant that is formed in place.
The RTV-2 liquid silicone rubber can be easily machine applied, cures at
room temperature, and has excellent resistance to oil, heat and blow-by gases.
With its outstanding adhesive and sealing properties, this rubber grade will
allow innovation in engine design. Its strength derives from an inorganic
backbone that gives silicone elastomers not only greater heat resistance, but
also better resistance to weathering, aging and chemicals than organic
INPRO Innovation Society for advanced production systems in the
automotive industry is a joint venture between BASF, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp,
Daimler and Volkswagen. Founded in 1983, the government of Berlin is also a partner.
The new composites manufacturing innovation center is intended to be a source of grand challenges for industry, like the kind that got us to the moon under JFK. These aren't the words its new CEO Craig Blue used, but that's the idea and the vision behind the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
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