Reinforced nylon replaces metal in VW platform

In a breakthrough for structural automotive components, DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) announced on Feb. 26 that its reinforced Zytel nylon resin has replaced steel in exhaust system parts on all Volkswagen vehicles built on the current Golf platform, cutting weight of the component by nearly 50 percent. “This is

In a breakthrough for structural automotive components, DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) announced on Feb. 26 that its reinforced Zytel nylon resin has replaced steel in exhaust system parts on all Volkswagen vehicles built on the current Golf platform, cutting weight of the component by nearly 50 percent.

“This is significant because a key priority today for automotive original equipment manufacturers is weight reduction to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions,” said Keith J. Smith, vice president and general manager – DuPont Engineering Polymers. “Future emissions requirements such as Euro 5 and EPA 2010 pose an enormous challenge that automakers are addressing in new designs for chassis, powertrain and engine systems. DuPont is applying its polymer science know-how and broad portfolio of high performance engineering resins for new designs where plastics match the performance of metals to achieve significant weight reduction without sacrificing functionality.”

Smith said the focus on weight reduction will be reflected in new powertrain technologies of the future and smaller engine designs that improve fuel economy. The EPA’s 2007 Fuel Economy Report indicates that progress is being made. The report confirms that gains in average fuel economy made in 2005 and 2006 are being held in 2007.

The new Golf catalytic converter bracket, which experiences temperatures up to 175°C/347°F due to its proximity to the engine, was previously a complex metal/rubber part which required multiple assembly steps. The new component is a global first, as a metal-to-plastics transition had not been attempted for parts such as these, which must withstand dynamic forces, chemical exposure and high temperatures. In addition to the nearly 50 percent weight reduction, the new all-plastic design with Zytel also makes possible more efficient, one-step assembly.