27th July 2017 by Richard Yen
We’re almost at the end of our look back at last year’s Altair Enlighten Award nominations with just our two winners left to review. Today’s it’s the turn of Germany based ContiTech Vibration Control who took the top honors in the module category with a polyamide cross member of the rear suspension on the 2016 Mercedes S-Class Coupe.
The nomination represents a coming together of both new materials and innovative design and simulation techniques to reduce weight. Rear suspensions are always built from steel or aluminum materials and that was true of the vehicle’s original design. To change this paradigm, since 2006, ContiTech has been investing in its molded plastics expertise and perfecting its Integrative Design Process that focuses, not only on the shape of the product, but uses the moldflow analysis and glass fiber alignment (anisotropic modeling) to achieve the design.
The combination of new expertise in lightweight materials, coupled with an investment in simulation and analysis technologies and processes enabled the company to change the direction from the typical way of designing.
Through the integrative simulation process, ContiTech was able to redesign the rib structure and optimize the weight of the component to leverage the unique strengths of the ployamide material, achieving the required performance levels in the process. This represented the first time a rear suspension cross member had ever been designed and produced in polyamide for production with the team undertaking great efforts to fully understand and calculate the shrinkage and warping characteristics of the product. The cross member was also the largest product that ContiTech had ever produced from polyamide materials.
ContiTech were worthy winners of last year’s module category and I would encourage you to spend a few minutes to listen to what they had to say about the production of the cross member and the challenges faced and overcome in the video below.