Reinforced Nylon Replaces Metal in VW Platform - 4/1/2008

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

In a breakthrough for structural automotive components, DuPont Engineering Polymers (Wilmington, Del.) announced on Feb. 26 that its glass fiber-reinforced Zytel nylon resin has replaced steel in exhaust system parts on all Volkswagen vehicles built on the current Golf platform, cutting the 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, the Engineered Polymers group’s VP and general manager. “Future emissions requirements, such as Euro 5 and EPA 2010, pose an enormous challenge that automakers are addressing in new designs for chassis, power train and engine systems. DuPont is applying its polymer science know-how and broad portfolio of high performance engineering resins to new designs where plastics match the performance of metals to achieve significant weight reduction without sacrificing functionality.” Smith also says the focus on weight reduction will be reflected in new power train technologies of the future and smaller engine designs that improve fuel economy.

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 that 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 also makes possible more efficient, one-step assembly.