First and foremost, premium cars must meet drivers' comfort and safety requirements. But there is always the issue of weight – and with every kilogram, the CO2 emissions increase.
In order to continue to comply with increasingly strict emission limits, automotive manufacturers are turning to lightweight design. Technical plastics are playing an increasingly important role in the components. Automotive manufacturers are being supported by their suppliers. For example, the international technology company ContiTech, a division of Continental, has now launched a new transmission adapter for cars. What is unique here is that using the glass-fiber-reinforced polyamide, Ultramid® by BASF, makes the component 55 percent lighter than the aluminum version previously used. “Such a huge reduction in weight is a major step in the field of lightweight design,” says Kai Frühauf, head of ContiTech Vibration Control. The transmission adapter is being used for the first time in the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class models, which were introduced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2016. It is a central component of the bearing in the 9G-TRONIC transmission and is planned for future use for models in the Mercedes-Benz C- and S-Classes.
Intelligent lightweight construction solution
This significant reduction in weight is made possible by the optimal use of materials. “Throughout the entire development period, a wide range of simulation tools were used. The perfect interaction of strength calculation and process simulation, as well as our knowledge of the material itself, enabled this significant weight reduction,” explains Diethard Schneider, head of Advance Development Lightweight Design at ContiTech Vibration Control.
Used in cars, the transmission adapter is in the direct line of power transmission between the transmission and the chassis. It withstands these heavy loads steadily and reliably. The component is aimed at premium vehicles and meets their high standards in terms of comfort, service life, and crash safety.
Materials expertise makes it possible
ContiTech has been using high-performance polyamides to produce lightweight components for the automotive sector since 2006. These include heavy-duty engine mounts, over three million of which were manufactured in 2013. In 2014, ContiTech introduced the first transmission crossbeam made of high-performance polyamide, for the rear axle. In 2015 came the first spring strut bearing, used on the car chassis as well as on the front and rear axles. ContiTech has also already delivered millions of polyamide torque rod supports and torque reaction mounts.