Cars have to adhere to a larger and stricter set of requirements all the time: sound deadening, CO2 reduction, aerodynamics, weight, etc. the list goes on and on. As automotive technology is progressing, more knowledge, development and design work is needed for every single part. Even in unassuming underside protection, which virtually no car owner will ever get to see, you cannot get away with a simple sheet of metal or plastic anymore. POLYTEC, a major supplier of fiber reinforced plastic parts to the automotive industry, gives us a look behind the scenes in the development process of one of those parts.
The Austria-based POLYTEC GROUP is a leading developer and manufacturer of plastic parts with over 4200 employees worldwide. Their branch in Roosendaal, The Netherlands, is part of the COMPOSITES business unit and supplies fiber reinforced plastic parts to automotive manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover.
“We happened to be there in 2013 for a different project,” says Andre Oppeneer, project manager at POLYTEC, “when an engineer at Jaguar, designing a new lightweight front undertray for the F-type All Wheel Drive, asked if we could help on a problem he had run into.”
Originally, the front undertray was made of a thick, relatively heavy sheet of GMT (a sheet of glass mat reinforced thermoplastics which is heated up in an oven and then put into a mold to press into the required shape). It turned out that it was not possible to reduce the weight of that part with a standard solution. Could POLYTEC help to make the front undertray lighter?
This article appeared in the Sept/Oct issue of Reinforced Plastics.