Lightweight Automotive Suspension (LAS)

With the recent developments in manufacturing techniques and increased knowledge of application of Thermo Plastic Composite (TPC) materials with a competitive cost, it could in principle be possible to manufacture specific components in large scale for automotive applications. This has been one of the interests of the automotive industry for some time now. Companies, however, indicate that they need help in developing highly stressed and safety-critical components in TPC material in such a way that they can be produced in series.

Lightweight Automotive Suspension (LAS) project investigates the capabilities and constraints of the application of components made from TPC for the wheel suspension of automobiles.

Background

The research group Lightweight Construction of Saxion and HAN Automotive Research along with a business group jointly investigate the central research question:

“What are the potential applications of thermoplastic composites in high-stress and safety-critical automotive components?”

This is also linked to secondary questions:

  • How can this be mass-produced to meet the demand?
  • And what would be the pricing?

Since the variation of components in a vehicle is vast, this research has been framed with respect to specific vehicle components (the unsprung weight of a vehicle, in other words - the wheel suspension). The solutions and knowledge obtained during this research phase, however, could be largely applicable to other automotive components.

In this project different functionalities of the suspension of vehicles, more specifically spring, damper and the steering knuckle, would have to be re-designed based on the requirements and the challenges occurring in practice. Emphasis will be placed on the manufacturability of products based on the changed conditions such that, the deployment of TPC materials and it’s production could be possible. Materials that would be required during the course of this research would be supplied by 2C Composites, DSM, COMFIL, Formosa Composites and Henkel.

The developed concepts will be analyzed by using modern computer models (mathematical and finite elements). Then the design stage to production should be developed by implementing specific production concepts.

Final Outcomes

The ultimate goal would be to test the performance of the actual concepts on a laboratory scale and on available vehicles. The whole process will lead to new insights into the possibilities (and limitations) of using TPC in automotive applications.