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.