Transmission adapters from ContiTech (left) and calculated fiber directions displayed as ellipsoids.
In passenger cars as well as in commercial vehicles, the trend towards light-weight design is still the decisive issue for the automotive industry. As a development partner to the industry, ContiTech constantly works on new solutions to make their components in the vehicles even lighter. The greatest challenge here is to meet the customers’ requirements for the application in question while also complying with the mechanical requirements for stiffness, strength, service life, and vibration behavior.
“Simulation technology has become indispensable in satisfying our customers’ requirements and meeting our own quality standards,” says Dieter Kardas from pre-development at ContiTech Vibration Control. At the Chassis Engineering Day organized by the Institute for Automotive Engineering at the University of Aachen, the ContiTech expert gave a lecture on ContiTech's development expertise in the field of light-weight technology.
Since 2006, ContiTech has used fiberglass-reinforced polyamide as a light-weight alternative to steel and aluminum for components in passenger cars. The weight-reduced components achieve weight savings of up to 50 percent. Whether it is the support mounting for the chassis, engine mount, or transmission crossbeam, ContiTech is working on innovations and develops new light-weight components using the weight-reduced materials.
A challenge in making calculations for injection-molded parts comes in the form of the anisotropic material properties that arise due to the fiberglass-reinforced polyamide. The direction of the glass fibers has a decisive influence on local mechanical component properties. Simulation processes are used to make visible the effects of microscopically small glass fibers on the mechanical properties of the assembly. In the development process, design studies are first of all conducted with simplified isotropic material descriptions. The design is then assessed using anisotropic material properties.
“Our goal is to support and improve the product development of light-weight components by using the opportunities offered by simulation methods,” declares Kardas. “We can use the simulation methods to predict the mechanical component performance at a very early stage and thus guarantee high quality for the components.”