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Reinforced nylon rear cross beam wins 2016 Enlighten Award

ContiTech The transmission cross beam is the largest part ContiTech Vibration Control has ever produced in nylon.

Traverse City, Mich. — A glass-reinforced nylon cross beam took a top award in this year’s Altair Enlighten Award, recognizing innovation in vehicle weight reduction.

Developed by ContiTech Vibration Control for the rear suspension of the 2016 Mercedes S-Class coupe, the injection molded cross beam achieved weight savings of 30 percent over the comparable aluminum component. The award, presented by the Center for Automotive Research and Altair Engineering Inc., was announced Aug. 1 at CAR’s Management Briefing Seminars, held in Traverse City.

“The award judging panel had not seen an application of [nylon] materials in this manner before, making it a standout entry and a worthy winner of the Module category,” the award announcement states.

The Module category is new this year to the award. The award program, now in its fourth year, added new categories to highlight both modules — including components, systems and enabling technologies — and full vehicles.

The cross beam completes the rear suspension cradle and also is the front mount for the differential for the rear, so it is under both suspension and torsion loads, said Andrew Little, a development engineer at ContiTech. The team used a simulation process to redesign the rib structure of the part. It’s the largest part ContiTech has ever produced in nylon.

Daimler AG The nylon cross beam is used in Mercedes S-Class Coupe.

“We’re really using this as kind of a launching point and demonstration to show that other applications very similar to this are very possible,” Little said. “It’s no longer you’re just using simple brackets or making a small transition, but you’re starting to see that there’s structural potential to this type of part.”

The material substitution was achieved with neutral cost impact, and the part is staged in the same workcell as the aluminum version, according to the nomination form.

The 2016 Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan won first place in the Full Vehicle category, for innovative use of mixed materials and simulation methodologies. Runners-up were BMW for its multi-material 2016 7 Series, and Alcoa for its Micromill aluminum processing technology used on the Ford F-150.

Altair is a simulation software company headquartered in Troy, Mich. ContiTech is a division of automotive supplier Continental AG.

Automotive

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