Infotainment mount shows benefit of new weight-saving polyamide

A hybrid technology that is based on continuous fiber-reinforced polyamide composites is said to significantly lower weight in lightweight automotive construction, as demonstrated by an infotainment mount developed for production vehicles by Audi AG, Lanxess, KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH, and Christian Karl Siebenwurst GmbH & Co. KG Modellbau und Formenbau. “The prototype weighs about half as much as a comparable component in steel, and can be installed more easily and produced in a large-scale manufacturing process,” says Lanxess engineering expert Ulrich Dajek.

The component is produced in a one-shot process in a single mould. It involves the use of two inserts made of Tepex dynalite 102-RG600(2)/47%, a polyamide 6 composite from Lanxess’s subsidiary, Bond-Laminates. They are heated, formed in the injection mould and then directly overmoulded with the easy-flow polyamide 6 Durethan BKV 30 EF H2.0 from Lanxess. The one-shot process was developed by several partners as part of the SpriForm project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The infotainment mount holds an amplifier and optionally a TV tuner. The weight of the installed devices can lead to considerable stresses during driving, particularly in the range of natural oscillation. This applies above all to the region around the points of connection to the body and the add-on parts. These areas therefore are reinforced with Tepex and designed such that between the points of force transmission, the forces flow mainly via the continuous fibres of the composite material. “This significantly enhances the mechanical performance of the support component, and lends the part very high strength near the points of connection,” Dajek explains.

The prototype is a result of early and close cooperation between Audi's Control Device Package Development and Fibre Reinforced Plastics Technology Development departments, and the external partners. Audi was responsible for the specifications, component design and component testing. In the joint project, Lanxess and Bond-Laminates also designed the component to withstand the prevailing loads and conducted structural mechanics and process analyses. Lanxess simulated forming of the heated composite inserts and derived from that the right dimensions for the inserts, focusing likewise on the positioning of the composite inserts inside the mould as that has a major influence on the forming process, according to Dajek. The results of the forming simulation additionally were used in the structural analysis. This way, the different local fibre orientations in the molded composite insert could be included in the component simulation, he furthers.

Meanwhile, KraussMaffei is able to develop a manufacturing cell that enables fully automated production of the infotainment mount in a cycle time of less than 60 seconds. A linear robot equipped with a special gripper handles the heated composite inserts in an extremely reproducible sequence despite the very short transfer times. The Siebenwurst company engineered and built the mould. Special pins accurately position the heated insert inside the mold. The holes for the screw connections are pierced after forming to preserve the fabric, in other words they are not punched in a subsequent step. As a result, the glass fibres in the composite inserts are not cut, but rather pushed aside optimally so that the mechanical properties of the highly stressed region around the connection points remain intact, or even are improved in some cases.

(IMA)

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