German automotive supplier Mann+Hummel GmbH is preparing to bring suction blow molding to North America, introducing more automakers to the potential of using recycled nylon in their parts and preparing to open a new facility in Russia.
``With the customers, it's all about cost, cost, cost. But we don't want to just have to go to all low-cost countries, so we're also improving efficient technologies,'' said Wilfried Lehr, managing director of Mann+Hummel's Automotive Original Equipment Division. He spoke at an April 18 news conference during the Society of Automotive Engineers 2007 World Congress in Detroit.
A cylinder-head cover the firm now makes in Germany for Volkswagen AG uses nylon from post-consumer and scrap carpeting.
The end product performs as well as a previous version made with virgin material, but also offers about a 5 percent cost break, according to the company.
``We're trying to expand this to other product lines as well,'' said John Baumann, business development manager for Mann+Hummel Automotive Inc., the Portage, Mich.-based unit of Ludwigsburg, Germany-based Mann+Hummel GmbH.
The company is showing the cylinder-head covers to other automakers, and is seeking validation for the recycled resin's use on its air-intake manifolds, Baumann noted.
The firm's three-dimensional suction blow molded parts, typically used for under-the-hood air ducts on turbo engines, replace systems that now use a combination of metal and rubber, which are heavier and more expensive to produce because they require connection points and extra assembly.
Suction blow molding makes a complete duct in one shot.
Mann+Hummel plans to install the blow molding equipment at its plant in Queretaro, Mexico, in 2008, then expand production to sites in the United States.
Outside North America, the firm is preparing to begin production in Russia, adding manufacturing to its capabilities in the region.