What can you do with recycled materials and injection molding in a totally new application? Solvay displayed a thermoplastic composite steering knuckle prototype for a car at its booth at the JEC World 2019 show in Paris this past March. The knuckle is the part that forms the connection point between the tie rod and the wheel.
The steering knuckle was displayed at JEC World 2019.
The component, a prototype manufactured by Italian automobile design house Magneti Marelli, is the first of its kind and the result of a close collaboration between both companies. The aim was to combine carbon fiber laminates with injection molding to demonstrate lightweighting (compared to the part's aluminum counterpart) and strength. Interestingly, the final product used 40 percent recycled carbon fiber, which helped with cost containment and is seen as environmentally friendly.
"This prototype is the first of its kind in the field of suspensions," said Marco Goia, head of Product Development at Magneti Marelli Ride Dynamics. "By using promising materials and processing technologies, we were able to combine high-performance thermoformed laminates with injection molding to create complex and non-conventional geometries. This combination enabled the design of a functionally integrated component, including co-molded structural sleeves."
The steering knuckle's complex geometry was designed to maximize the properties inherent in Solvay's thermoplastic composites and injection molding materials. It showcases compression molding and overmolding processes and the combination of Solvay's Amodel PPA thermoplastic compound and Evolite PPA thermoplastic composites -- products developed specifically for high-temperature automotive functional applications.
Solvay says the final product "highlights how novel high-performance materials, rate-capable processing methods, and a smart part design can be combined to result in structural performance, function integration, and weight saving."
"This is a successful combined application of Solvay's Amodel and Evolite PPA thermoplastic composite technologies which meets the rate and process flexibility expected by automotive manufacturers," said Gerald Perrin, Global Automotive Director at Solvay Composite Materials Global Business Unit.
VIDEO: Representatives from Magneti Marelli and Solvay introduce their thermoplastic composite steering knuckle prototype at JEC World 2019.
Goia said Magneti Marelli led the project from concept (using advanced design methodologies) to prototyping and benefited from Solvay's materials science application and process tuning expertise.