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BMW Uses First Plastic Transmission Cross Beam

For the first time, a transmission cross beam has been manufactured of the plastic polyamide and used as standard in the new BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo 550i. By using Ultramid A3WG10 CR instead of aluminum, it was possible to reduce the weight of the part by 50%.

Crossbeam
The first transmission cross beam made of plastic (front) was developed by ContiTech in close cooperation with BMW and BASF. Click to enlarge.

The cross beam, which was developed by ContiTech Vibration Control in close cooperation with BMW and BASF, received an award just a few days after standard production of the vehicle got started: In the Industry category, it landed the first place Innovation Award conferred by the Federation of Reinforced Plastics (AVK).

The transmission cross beam—a structural component designed to withstand high stressing—is the direct link to the engine-transmission mount. It contributes to the overall rigidity of the vehicle and supports the forces and torque of the engine-transmission unit.

ContiTech produces the component from exceptionally strong polyamide in an injection molding process. With the help of BASF’s ULTRASIM development instrument, it was possible to reduce the weight by 1 kg compared to the same component made of metal—a milestone in lightweight car construction. In addition to weight reduction, development focused on optimum vehicle acoustics and crash safety.

Furthermore, the developers managed to ideally adapt the component to the available installation space. The plastic transmission cross beam also fully satisfies the high temperature requirements that result from the proximity to the exhaust system. Another advantage is better recyclability.

Comments

Bob Carpenter

If they can do this, how far away is a plastic engine block?? That would generate huge weight savings!

Patrick

I would say pretty far away from a plastic engine block...the better question is what other structural components can be made with plastics?

Plastic bumper reinforcement bar instead of aluminum for further weight savings with potentially similar energy absorption properties (better than steel energy absorption)?

HarveyD

Many parts of future e-motors, battery cases, control boxes, power regenerators etc could be made of strong light weight plastics.

The total weight of a decent 4 to 5 passenger future e-vehicle could be reduced from 2 to less than 1 tonne and batteries could be reduced in size and cost.

HarveyD

Many parts of future e-motors, battery cases, control boxes, power regenerators etc could be made of strong light weight plastics.

The total weight of a decent 4 to 5 passenger future e-vehicle could be reduced from 2 to less than 1 tonne and batteries could be reduced in size and cost.

wintermane2000

I never use the first of anything.. I let others use it and then I use the fith generation of it after they fix all the deadly horrible oopsies;/

SJC

Aluminum space frames and polymer body panels could shave 1000 pounds off the weight of the car. Saving 1 kilo of weight is not significant.

Patrick

"Saving 1 kilo of weight is not significant."

It is when you consider that it may cost the same and if proven reliable could lead to confidence in replacing other structural members. 1kg sounds like nothing when taken out of context but it is huge when you consider that it is only 50% the weight of the original Aluminum component. This probably gives nearly a 75% weight savings over a steel component.

ToppaTom

Auto structural polyamide is usually nylon.

This part weighs less, is quieter and, if not
cheaper, it probably soon will be.

I hope the durability is better than the nylon radiator tanks.

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