Specially developed versions of 3M’s Thinsulate material can absorb the higher frequency sounds produced by hybrid vehicles’ electric motors and transmissions. The material is lightweight and, because it is compact and compressible, packaging and assembly is straightforward.
|The mesh of fibers in specially developed version’s of 3M’s Thinsulate material absorb the higher frequency sounds produced by hybrid vehicles’ electric motors. Click to enlarge.|
3M recently formed a European Automotive Acoustics Group to bring such lightweight acoustic materials to European vehicle programs. 3M says it could be particularly useful for the growing number of European model programs based on platforms originally conceived without a hybrid version in mind.
Buyers expect premium acoustic quality. Adding an electric motor generates new higher-frequency noises that require changes to a vehicle’s acoustic package. Instead of adding heavy sound-deadening materials, Japan’s leading hybrid manufacturers have used specially developed grades of Thinsulate as a lightweight and cost-effective solution. We expect 3M’s approach to receive growing interest from European manufacturers.—Abs Master, head of 3M European Automotive Acoustics Group
Automotive applications of Thinsulate have been rising steadily in recent years with manufacturers using the specialist material to reduce mass in door panels, headliners, wheel wells, pillars and instrument panels. Thinsulate replaces some of the cumbersome mixed-fiber shoddy mats, foams and absorbers, cutting the weight of some acoustic material parts by up to 40% and saving several kilos.
Thinsulate comes die-cut with slits so that it folds and conforms easily around the contours of the vehicle, Master notes, making integration straightforward.