Considerably lighter than steel or aluminum
Cologne – The continuous fiber-reinforced high-performance Tepex composites from LANXESS subsidiary Bond-Laminates are finding new applications in the area of automotive bodywork. One example is the use of a variant of Tepex dynalite to provide engine compartment protection in the MINI John Cooper Works GP. “The extreme strength and toughness of our material work very much in its favor. These characteristics make the underbody protection, prone as it is to stone hits and even grounding on poor roads, more robust and extremely resistant to impact,” says Harri Dittmar, lightweight design expert at Bond-Laminates. In addition, the regular alignment of the composite’s continuous glass fibers lends the component an attractive carbon-like appearance.
Three times stronger
The protector is manufactured using a compression molding procedure that combines flow and forming processes. This involves compounding polypropylene with continuous glass fiber rovings and forming the component directly from the resulting DLFT mass (DLFT = Direct Long Fiber Thermoplastic) in a compression mold. What is so special about the production process is the fact that two Tepex dynalite outer layers are also compressed at the same time so as to reinforce the specific area subjected to the greatest stress.
This produces a sandwich component with a DLFT core and part of its surface made from the high-performance composite. “Compared to a solely polypropylene-based DLFT component, the outer skins made from our material give the part three times the strength and energy absorption,” Dittmar says. The Tepex dynalite 104-RG 601 consists of a polypropylene matrix embedded with a fabric containing 47 percent by volume continuous glass fiber rovings.
Huge potential as a lighter alternative to metals
Dittmar believes there is immense scope for using Tepex dynalite as underbody protection in cars – especially in vehicles destined for countries with poor roads that therefore require extra protection. “Sandwich DLFT solutions can be up to 50 percent lighter than steel and 20 percent lighter than aluminum protection. Thermoplastic sandwich composites also provide more effective sound insulation from stone hits – in other words they demonstrate superior acoustic properties too,” Dittmar adds.
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