German technology company Rheinmetall has developed a unique glass-fibre suspension spring for cars and other vehicles that offers a significant weight advantage.
Recently unveiled for the first time in a prototype testbed vehicle, the springs have already undergone an intensive testing programme involving actual trials and are starting to be rolled out by a number of vehicle manufacturers.
Made from plastic reinforced with glass fibres, the springs are said to be up to 75 per cent lighter compared to conventional steel springs.According to the company, they offer several other advantages including pitch and roll stability, high inherent damping of the material and optimal noise, vibration and harshness characteristics.They are also more resistant to corrosion than conventional steel springs.
The springs fit into the same installation space as standard springs and feature outstanding fatigue strength, including very good emergency operating characteristics – that is, they can continue to function even when damaged.
‘The following applies as a general rule in vehicle manufacturing: the lower the mass of the unsprung components, the better the driving characteristics of a vehicle,’ said Ralf Buschbeck, the CTO for materials and trade at Rheinmetall. ‘Furthermore, the topic of lightweight design, along with CO2 reduction, is the main driver for development departments focussing on vehicle concepts of the future.’