DENSO Develops a Light, High-Performance, Front-End Module

08 July 2002

Japan-based DENSO Corporation and Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. headquartered in Osaka, Japan, have jointly developed a light, high-performance, front-end module that is 30 percent lighter than the conventional component structure.

DENSO will supply this product to Daihatsu in Japan for its light sports vehicle, Copen. The new front-end module contains the carrier, radiator, electric fan and condenser for the car's air-conditioner, intercooler and air cleaner. After delivery, Daihatsu will affix the bumper and headlights to the DENSO-manufactured, front-end module.

The front-end carrier is usually made of iron for strength and impact resistance. Other conventional carrier types are glass mat reinforced thermoplastics (GMT) and resin-molded carriers reinforced with iron plates. The new DENSO carrier is made of a light, cost-efficient polypropylene (PP) material reinforced with long-fiber glass, which reduces weight and cost. The resin material used to build the carrier is also recyclable.

Traditionally, radiator and air-conditioner condenser products are attached to the front of the vehicle, where they are exposed to the air while in operation for heat exchange efficiency. By optimizing the entire front-end thermal component zone, DENSO improved heat exchange efficiency not possible through improvements on individual components.

""Modularization can be classified into two types: assembly modularization where a parts manufacturer undertakes an assembly process for an automaker or function-intensive modularization where functions of different components are combined to create better performance,"" says Koichi Fukaya, managing director in charge of DENSO's Thermal Division. ""DENSO takes a wide range of thermal components, electric systems and electronics for automobiles that are conventionally designed separately, and integrates their functions, thereby promoting the modularization of auto parts to create better performance.""

Materials and changes that led to a 30 percent weight reduction for high performance included the following a light, cost-efficient polypropylene (PP) material reinforced with long-fiber glass carrier. By improving the fiberglass property and PP, it prevented the deterioration of the carrier after long-term use. Also, DENSO invented an injection molding machine, molded structures and created new methods of molding for a light and rigid carrier structure.

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