Lightweight chassis components from ZF

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ZF Friedrichshafen AG has revealed its latest concepts in weight-saving chassis components.

Going beyond the fiber-reinforced thermoplastic pedal assembly, and fiber-glass reinforced polyamide engine mounts, as adopted by the Renault-Nissan group on several small cars, ZF’s conceptual work focuses on introducing weight-saving materials into core chassis components.

The 2013 IAA saw ZF debut a lightweight suspension strut and knuckle module, of mixed-material construction. Using a combination of fiber-reinforced plastics, aluminum, and high-strength steels, the concept is said to offer weight savings of around 40% over a conventional steel design.

Elsewhere, ZF’s lightweight expertise has led to the development of a complete passenger car rear axle assembly, complete with wheel-guiding transverse spring made of glass-fiber-reinforced plastic. ZF states that the benefits of this concept are two-fold. Firstly, the mixed-materials construction offers a weight saving of around 15% over a conventional assembly, whilst the integrated wheel guiding transverse spring reduces the complexity of the unit over a multilink set-up.

By allowing the spring to control the wheel’s guidance, as well as the bounce and roll of the suspension, the number of components in the assembly is reduced; ultimately saving space and further weight for OEMs.

These new products accompany news that ZF inaugurated its Composites Tech Center, in Schweinfurt, Germany, earlier this year with a key objective of bringing these concepts to volume production. The center will also focus on developing new process technologies for the volume production of fiber-reinforced products, allowing for the ‘maturity of many lightweight concepts’, according to the German supplier.

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About Author

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Graham Heeps is a regular contributor, and knows the dynamics industry well, having previously edited the title. Graham also writes regularly on automotive and motorsport subjects for other magazines from Vehicle Dynamics International’s publisher, UKi Media & Events (as well as editing Tire Technology International), and contributes to a range of online and print publications in the UK, USA and Canada.

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