FRANKFURT, GERMANY (Dec. 12, 12 p.m. ET) — Plastics continue to penetrate a market segment traditionally dominated by metals — oil pans — as recent developments show.
ElringKlinger AG has developed an oil pan concept with integrated sieve enclosure, oil drain plug and dipstick channel functions. It displayed a prototype of the pan at the IAA 2011 automotive fair in Frankfurt in September.
ElringKlinger and mold maker and molder Hummel-Formen jointly applied for a patent for the concept in 2010. ElringKlinger then acquired a 90 percent holding in Hummel Group in October.
In 2009, Hummel-Formen started producing a 70-liter oil pan in a grade of BASF's Ultramid nylon 66 (Ultramid A3HG7 Q17) for MTU Friedrichshafen. The off-road pan saves 40-50 percent of the weight compared to aluminum pans.
At Fakuma 2011 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Lanxess AG displayed an oil pan measuring 120cm x 40cm x 35cm for the 12.8 liter Euro 6 engines of the Mercedes Actros truck from Daimler. This is molded in both nylon (BKV 35 EF H2.0) and nylon 66 (Durethan AKV 35 H2.0) by BBP Kunststoffwerk Marbach Baier GmbH.
Lanxess oil pan specialist Frank Krause said nylon 6 is as capable as nylon 66 in meeting the performance needs of oil pans. He said nylon 6 also has an advantage in improved sealing in the sealing groove area as glass fibers show less on the surface than they do in nylon 66.
The unit shown by Lanxess at Fakuma was the larger of two oil pans in the Actros truck, which has a larger top and 18 fixing inserts for its cast aluminum cover. This larger unit is the rear sump version, as described by Günther Zoll, production and materials technology specialist at Daimler, in a presentation at the 2009 VDI plastics in automotive conference.
The Actros oil pan displayed by BASF SE on its K2004 stand was clearly the front version with 12 fixing inserts for its cover. Both have the same 37-liter oil capacity. Zoll pointed out that the hybrid design with a cast aluminum cover and plastic pan molding is equally strong as original pans made entirely in cast aluminum.
The front Actros oil pan won a 2003 SPE central Europe automotive award for molder Kunststoffwerk Sachsen and its partners BASF, injection molding machinery producer Engel and moldmaker Presswerkzeugbau Groß.dubrau.
Zoll of Daimler said at the 2009 VDI conference that there is potential for even more highly integrated oil pans. He suggested that, in the far future, integration of oils pumps may be conceivable.