Audi to use suspension springs of glass fiber-reinforced polymer instead of steel for ~40% weight savings
Audi will introduce new, lightweight suspension springs made of glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) in an upper mid-size model before the end of the year. The GFRP spring is some 40% lighter than a steel spring.
Whereas a steel spring for an upper mid-size model weighs nearly 2.7 kilograms (6.0 lb), a GFRP spring with the same properties weighs just approximately 1.6 kilograms (3.5 lb). Together the four GFRP springs thus reduce the weight by roughly 4.4 kilograms (9.7 lb), half of which pertains to the unsprung mass.
The core of the springs consists of long glass fibers twisted together and impregnated with epoxy resin. A machine wraps additional fibers around this core—which is only a few millimeters in diameter—at alternating angles of plus and minus 45˚ to the longitudinal axis. These tension and compression plies mutually support one another to optimally absorb the stresses acting on the component. In the last production step, the blank is cured in an oven at temperatures of over 100 ˚C.
The GFRP springs can be precisely tuned to their respective task, and the material exhibits outstanding properties. It does not corrode, even after stone chipping, and is impervious to chemicals such as wheel cleaners. Production requires far less energy than the production of steel springs.
The GFRP springs save weight at a crucial location in the chassis system. We are therefore making driving more precise and enhancing vibrational comfort.—Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG