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LANXESS has designed a material solution for custom parts based on the continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites of its subsidiary, Bond Laminates, Tepex brand.
According to LANXESS, these enable the manufacture of virtually indestructible engine shields, fuel tank covers and centre tunnel covers that are already in use on several standard models such as the Bentley Bentayga.
“In a trial on a rough and rocky test track, the components withstood the extreme wear and tear of the underbody hitting the surface as well as gravel impact with virtually no damage at all,” says Harri Dittmar, Tepex Applications Developer. On top of that, the composite material simplifies the production process. “Custom parts can be produced in the same mould as the corresponding standard vehicle components. Processors don’t need to turn other materials and can eliminate investments in additional moulds and presses with higher clamping forces,” adds Dittmar.
LANXESS explains, the shields and covers for the standard and custom models are both fabricated in a compression moulding process using polypropylene-based low-weight reinforced thermoplastics (LWRT). The large LWRT blanks are heated in a convection oven and inserted by a robot into a compression mould that can shape up to four components simultaneously depending on part size. The components are then punched out of the finish-contoured blanks or cut out with a water jet. To fabricate the components for the custom parts, a 0.5-millimeter-thick Tepex insert is additionally placed on top of the LWRT blanks and moulded together with them, so that the resulting components have a Tepex surface on the side facing the road.
The engine shields and the tank covers are manufactured by ElringKlinger Abschirmtechnik, based in Sevelen, Switzerland. It uses the LWRT material ElroCoustic. The centre tunnel covers are fabricated by Röchling of Mannheim, Germany, from its own LWRT material called Seeberlite. LANXESS says that the inserts for all of the custom parts are made of Tepex dynalite 104-RG 601, comprising a polypropylene matrix in which 47 percent by volume continuous glass fibre rovings are embedded as a single-layer fabric.
It claims that the top layer of Tepex significantly increases the strength, stiffness and above all the toughness of the LWRT components. Dittmar continues, “Because of its unique structure, LWRT additionally has a very good sound-absorbing effect, which would not have been possible with other compression moulding compounds and would have meant less comfort.” The durability of the composite structure can be increased even more if Tepex is used not only on the side facing the road but also on the inside as an overlay. “The result would be a sandwich structure with a core made of LWRT that is even stiffer but nonetheless still lightweight,” says Dr. Egon Moos, Product Manager Underbody Systems at Röchling Automotive.
Image provided by LANXESS
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