June 02, 2015 Volume 11 Issue 21

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ContiTech develops first polyamide rear axle transmission crossbeam

Rubber and plastic specialist ContiTech (Hanover, Germany) has developed a rear axle transmission crossbeam from fiberglass-reinforced polyamide BASF Ultramid. The piece (a first for the industry in this material) is used in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan and coupe.

The new variant is about 25 percent lighter compared to diecast aluminum versions.

The new ContiTech transmission crossbeam for the rear axle is used in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. [Photo: ContiTech]



"The new rear axle transmission crossbeam is a milestone in the use of polyamides in the chassis and has the potential to set a new trend in the automotive industry," says Kai Fruhauf, head of the ContiTech Vibration Control business unit. Polyamide is increasingly replacing metal, and we're right there in the forefront helping manufacturers gradually replace metal with high-performance plastics."

The rear axle transmission crossbeam from ContiTech is used in Mercedes-Benz vehicle models with all-wheel drive, with the exception of the AMG range. The component boasts optimum strength, good NVH performance, and high crash protection. As a central component of the rear axle, it supports forces and torques of the rear axle transmission.

"Absolute precision is called for in the design and production of the transmission crossbeam for the rear axle -- particularly in terms of strength and dimensional accuracy of the component," says Diethard Schneider, head of lightweight construction pre-development at ContiTech Vibration Control. "Only when all the properties are exactly right can the component be assembled in the axle system without any problems. The fact that premium suppliers are among the forerunners shows the trust and confidence that engineers have today in the performance of our polyamide components for engines and chassis."

Polyamide components are making marked advances in reducing weight and making vehicles more environmentally friendly. Unlike aluminum, polyamide can be shaped at lower temperatures, thus requiring significantly less energy in the manufacturing process. There is also a wide range of possibilities for recycling.

Since 2006, ContiTech Vibration Control has been using BASF Ultramid for bearings in automotive construction and has received design awards for its work. More recent product solutions include heavy-duty engine mounts, with the annual production volume in 2013 exceeding 3 million.

Source: ContiTech

Published June 2015

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