MAN Truck & Bus (Munich, Germany) has received the 2015 JEC Innovation award in the Transportation category for its carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) composite Air Spring Base for buses. The use of CFRP results in a 70% weight reduction. Air spring beams for buses are currently manufactured with steel. As a result, the construction weighs more than 53 kg. MAN has developed an air spring beam made from CFRP materials that weighs less than 16 kg.
MAN had the idea to manufacture the beam from CFRP to reduce weight and looked for a partner that could not only build the component but also produce it in high volumes. Munich Composites (Ottobrunn, Germany) designed the prototype for the CFRP beam based on its many years of composite engineering and manufacturing experience. The company's BraidForm braiding technology is optimized for the consistent, high-quality production of small or large series of CFRP components.
In the automotive industry, the manufacturer has to guarantee that every part has the same high quality. One of the main advantages of Munich Composites' BraidForm technology is its completely automated process. Several robots guide the core through the braiding machine without any manual interference. Due to the high productivity, complete automation, and very low scrap rate, the cost of the CFRP beam is projected to be significantly reduced vs. less automated composites processes. This cost is touted as completely viable when combined with the significant weight reduction achieved.
The award for this new transportation composites development will be presented on Tuesday, March 11 during the JEC Composites Show (March 10-12, Paris, France).