Hanover and Ludwigshafen, December 2009. New applications for lightweight components are constantly being found in the automotive sector. For the first time, a transmission cross beam has been manufactured of the plastic polyamide and used as standard in the new BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo 550i. By choosing Ultramid® A3WG10 CR instead of aluminum, it was possible to reduce the weight of the part by 50%. The cross beam, which was developed by ContiTech Vibration Control in close cooperation with BMW and BASF, received an award just a few days after standard production of the vehicle got started: In the Industry category, it landed the first place Innovation Award conferred by the Federation of Reinforced Plastics (AVK).
The transmission cross beam – a structural component designed to withstand high load – is the direct link to the engine-transmission mount. It contributes to the overall rigidity of the vehicle and supports the forces and torque of the engine-transmission unit. ContiTech produces the component from exceptionally strong polyamide in an injection molding process. With the help of BASF’s ULTRASIM® development instrument, it was possible to reduce the weight by 1 kg compared to the same component made of metal – a milestone in lightweight car construction. In addition to weight reduction, development focused on optimum vehicle acoustics and crash safety. As proven by elaborate testing, these two goals were achieved.
Furthermore, the developers managed to ideally adapt the component to the available installation space. The plastic transmission cross beam also fully satisfies the high temperature requirements that result from the proximity to the exhaust system. Another advantage is better recyclability. ContiTech thus contributes to sustainability with this product as well.
ContiTech AG, Hanover, is the world’s largest specialist for rubber and plastics technology in the non-tire rubber sector. The company develops and produces functional parts, components and systems for the automotive industry and other key industries. It has a workforce of around 21,000. In 2008, it posted sales in the order of €3 billion. ContiTech is a division of Continental AG, one of the world’s major automotive suppliers, with sales of more than €24 billion in 2008. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for the powertrain and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, the corporation contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. The corporation currently employs approximately 134,000 at nearly 190 locations in 35 countries.