Thursday, March 22, 2012: 02:33:03 PM

Intelligent Lightweight Construction for Green Mobility

In cooperation with LANXESS and Bond-Laminates GmbH from Brilon, Germany, ZF Friedrichshafen AG has developed a brake pedal based on nylon composite sheet and polyamide 6. The big advantage of this system is that it is 50 per cent lighter than comparable brake pedals made of steel, but has the same mechanical strength.

Weighing just 355 g, this concept component is the world's first car brake pedal made of polyamide reinforced with continuous glass fibres that is suitable for large-scale series production. ‘The brake pedal is a good example of the tremendous opportunities being opened up by thermoplastic composite structures in the drive to Green Mobility’, explained Thomas Malek, an expert in hybrid technology at the LANXESS Semi-Crystalline Products business unit. The newly designed brake pedal can be used not only in conventional passenger cars, it is also ideal for electric vehicles where weight must be kept to an absolute minimum to ensure the maximum range per charge cycle.

The brake pedal in nylon composite sheet hybrid technology is easier to manufacture than comparable pedals of sheet steel, which usually consist of several sheets. For example, the new technique eliminates the need for the complicated forming, cutting and welding processes required with sheet metal. Anti-corrosion treatment is now also superfluous because the plastic part does not contain any metal.

The brake pedal is made of a nylon composite sheet from the Tepex dynalite range from Bond-Laminates. The 2 mm thick nylon composite sheet material of polyamide 6, reinforced with 47 per cent continuous glass fibres by volume, is heated, thermoformed and cut to size. The result is an insert, reinforced at specific points with Durethan BKV 30 H2.0 polyamide 6 from LANXESS, which has proved its mettle in hybrid technology. ‘The brake pedal could, in fact, also be produced in a single-step process because the forming of the nylon composite sheet could be easily integrated into the injection moulding tool. This one-shot process allows high volumes to be produced economically’, said Malek. A further cost-reducing factor compared with an all-steel solution is that injection moulding allows a wide range of functions to be integrated directly into the component. Typical examples include the pedal foot plate, attachments for the booster rod and components for the brake light switch.

Polyamide 6 is used as both, the injection moulding material and the matrix of the nylon composite sheet. In contrast to hybrid technology with sheet steel, the matrix and back-injected areas produce a material bond across all contact surfaces. It acts like a weld, and thus significantly increases the mechanical performance of the component. ‘This is one reason why the new brake pedal more than satisfies the requirement specification’, said Marek.

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