The automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), especially those in the premium segment, have to optimise the existing systems and develop new ones. While public attention is mainly on the diversification of competing drive concepts, development departments of OEMs as well as Tier-1 suppliers are looking far beyond this to fuel efficiency, lightweighting and automation. Throughout the entire supply chain, companies are searching for possibilities to reduce vehicle weight or improve efficiency, allowing modules to be compatible for cars of all drive concepts.

In order to support them, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions (TSS) is working on to bring down the weight of its products while providing better sealing. The biggest impact for seal manufacturers might have been from the full implementation of a common-part strategy of the OEMs. The `platforms’ create the technical base for transmissions, chassis and engines used across numerous models and brands within the same marque.

TSS, leader in engineered polymer solutions that seal, damp and protect critical applications in demanding environments, produces the best-in-class elastomer and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)- based seals. Its innovative engineered solutions accelerate performance for customers in a sustainable way.

Weight, cost reduction

In addition to these core portfolios, Trelleborg has a unique two-component offering of products like Rubore Seals, high-revolution rotary seals and complex plastic-to-LSR solutions. They are ideally suited for new concepts coming from the OEMs. The requirements of the latest concepts are changing the view on seals from low-cost commodity parts to strategic components.

Rubore Technology is a production process used to create a 3 to 5 layer rubber-to-metal sandwich by applying a bonding agent to metal carriers and then vulcanizing rubber to the coated metal. It offers significant weight saving and cost reduction for manufacturers of anti-vibration components.

The Head of Sales Engineering for the European Automotive Hub for TSS, Axel Weimann, said, “the real benefits of our patented Rubore composite technology are apparent when you consider the total cost of production. Working with us, components can be designed or redesigned to integrate Rubore products. This can lead to significant total cost savings when you consider reduction of handling, the ability to automate assembly and less logistics.”

One example of how the Rubore composite technology has worked in practice is the seal design of an electronic control unit (ECU). As the room available within an engine compartment or vehicle interior is limited, it leads to complex designs that can fit the space requirements. In a harsh environment, like the engine compartment, the ECU cover is constructed from metal and sealing is usually with a moulded gasket, manually inserted in to the groove or achieved by gluing with liquid silicone or elastomer. With Trelleborg’s Rubore Cover Seal, costly manual installation procedure is no longer needed as rubber seal is combined with the ECU cover in a single integrated unit.

Another big saving is given in many applications where due to compensation of roughness, the need for surface finishing can be alleviated. In addition, minimising components weight not only reduces material costs, but also contributes to the automotive designers’ objective to lower vehicle weight. Similar light weighting can be achieved in gearbox, engine block, pumps, clutches and many more applications using Rubore
seals. ACI

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