ZF Friedrichshafen beefs up automotive tech center

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German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG has added new equipment at its development center as part of its ongoing interest in using plastics to replace metal in some structural parts.

ZF's technology center in Schweinfurt, Germany, will be able to produce complex, prototype-ready parts in low quantities using new equipment from Dieffenbacher GmbH and KraussMaffei with both thermoplastic and thermoset composites, Dieffenbacher noted in a Nov. 11 press release.

ZF has been talking about the potential for more use of plastics for more than a year, with a focus in Schweinfurt on development of wheel carriers and transverse leaf springs in car chassis and four-point links on trucks. The company hopes to reduce weight on those parts by between 15 percent and 50 percent.

Dieffenbacher supplied a 1,000-ton press from its DCL series for ZF, which will allow the supplier to pursue development using resin transfer molding, sheet molding compound, direct long fiber thermoplastics and organic sheet metal forming.

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