Interview: ContiTech Discuss it Enlighten Award Winning Entry and the Future of Polymers in Vehicle Development

23rd November 2016

Following on from our conversation with John Thomas of Arconic, we’re pleased to bring you insights from our 2016 Altair Enlighten Award winner for the module category, ContiTech.

ContiTech kindly invited us to their facilities to discuss the polyamide crossbeam winning entry with Scott Bykowski, Manager R&D at ContiTech North America. Here’s the interview:

 

We’ve also transcribed the discussion for those of you without the luxury of sound on your work machines.

 


 

We were very excited to receive the Enlighten Award from Altair. It’s really the first time we’ve been recognized for one of our advanced products in the North American market, and it’s just been a great honor for us.

ContiTech Vibration Control has been producing polyamide products since 2006 with the beginning of engine mounts, our engine mount technology replacing torque reaction mounts, aluminum die castings with the polyamide material, moving into a cross member for BMW in 2010, and then, recently, with the Mercedes cross member.

We’ve just been expanding that technology into new products and new ideas. And that’s the latest innovation for us. As far as skepticism in the automotive industry when you go from a conversion of metal to polyamide or to a plastic material you’ll run into some of that just because everybody’s so familiar with the aluminium and steel in the industry. And you’re entering a market that, typically, plastics is not involved in. So that’s where you run into some of the issues with the people, and it’s more of a paradigm shift for the automotive industry. And that’s been happening now for several years, so it’s becoming less and less.

The future of this technology is really in the infant stages. There are constantly new materials coming out and being developed by the material suppliers, replacing glass fiber with carbon fiber, and carbon fiber sheet, continuous glass fiber all kinds of different activities that are surrounding the technology. And we’re just excited to see what we can come up with next.

I think for lightweighting in the future, you’re going to see a great deal of new classifications of not only polyamide or polymer materials, but you’re also going to see this in steel and aluminum.

You will see thinning gauges that are actually stronger in steel now. There’s going to be a place for all of this technology in vehicles to come. But the polyamide or the polymer materials are really going to take off, I think, in the near future.

 

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