On November 10, 2021, the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®) in Michigan hosted its 50th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, the oldest and largest awards ceremony in the automotive and plastics industries. In all, awards were presented in 10 categories for the most innovative use of plastics. This year, Ford Motor Co. beat out the rest of the nominees with its innovative spring system for Ford's F-150 pickup model. The hybrid leaf spring from supplier Rassini was selected as the award winner in the chassis/hardware category. This award also honors the supply chain.
SGL Carbon is involved in two aspects of this project: Firstly, with the production of state-of-the-art glass fiber fabrics at the SGL site in Wackersdorf, and secondly, with the supply of finished leaf spring components, which SGL manufactures in its component production facility in Ort im Innkreis, Austria.
"In addition to the almost fully automated and high-volume series production, the technical innovation for the excellent spring system also consists of the intelligent interaction between conventional steel leaf springs and our novel composite materials. Here, the conventional steel leaf spring is supported by our additional spring made of GFRP, so that the vehicle is cushioned reliably and comfortably even with heavy load. Compared to steel, the design of the composite leaf spring also enables a weight saving of over 50%. ", explains Robert Hütter, responsible for Large Scale Solutions at SGL Carbon's Composites Division.
"We congratulate Ford and Rassini and are proud to contribute to the innovative suspension system of the F-150 with our fiber materials and composite solutions. While our carbon fibers, with their high tensile strength and light weight, are particularly suitable for body components, our glass fiber fabrics, with their especially elastic material properties and equally low weight, are an optimal set-up for making modern leaf spring systems even lighter and offering a real alternative to the classic steel leaf spring. This applies to combustion engines as well as to electric mobility. ", adds Markus Stieglbauer, Director Sales Management of the Business Line Textiles at the Fiber Division in Wackersdorf.
The significant weight reduction of composite components also ensures a higher range and more efficiency for e-cars (BEV) as well as lower fuel consumption. At the same time, CO2 emissions are reduced and the rigidity of the vehicle is increased.
Variety of composites components
For use in the automotive industry, SGL Carbon produces a wide range of different parts and components made of carbon and glass fiber-reinforced plastics, from body components and battery cases to friction linings made of carbon fiber material. The company supplies a wide range of automotive manufacturers worldwide. The automotive components also include leaf springs made of glass fibers, which contribute to a significant reduction in weight. SGL Carbon manufactures the leaf springs in a highly automated process, both as transversal and longitudinal leaf springs.