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ContiTech and BASF Reach New Milestone in Lightweight Construction

15 January 2010

ContiTech Vibration Control, working in close cooperation with BMW and BASF, has been able to create what is thought to be the world’s first transmission cross beam manufactured from polyamide.

This new part is set to be a standard part for the new BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo 550i.

By using Ultramid A3WG10 CR instead of aluminium, developers claim it was possible to reduce the weight of the part by 50%.

The cross beam, which was developed by ContiTech Vibration Control in close cooperation with BMW and BASF, received an award just a few days after standard production of the vehicle got started: In the Industry category, it landed the first place Innovation Award conferred by the Federation of Reinforced Plastics (AVK).

The transmission cross beam – a structural component designed to withstand high stressing – is the direct link to the engine-transmission mount. It contributes to the overall rigidity of the vehicle and supports the forces and torque of the engine-transmission unit.

ContiTech produces the component from exceptionally strong polyamide in an injection moulding process.

With the help of BASF’s ULTRASIMTM development instrument, manufacturers say it was possible to reduce the weight by 1 kg compared to the same component made of metal.

In addition to weight reduction, development focused on optimum vehicle acoustics and crash safety.

Testing has shown that the plastic transmission cross beam fully satisfies the high temperature requirements that result from the proximity to the exhaust system. Developers say that the part also offers better recyclability.