Polyphthalamide (PPA) replaces aluminium in complex automotive components

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  • PPA replaces die-cast aluminium in central clutch operator
  • Polyamide used in Opel’s AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting) system
  • EMS named “Supplier of the Year” by General Motors for 5th consecutive year

Polyamides are used in a wide range of applications in automotive interiors, including seat adjustment levers, air vents and speaker covers. General Motors subsidiary Opel uses polyamides also for technically more complex components, for instance the central clutch operator and the AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting) system. For the consistent support to develop highly complex components made by General Motors suppliers, the company EMS-Grivory was awarded the “Supplier of the Year” award by General Motors for the fifth consecutive year.

Polyphthalamide replaces die-cast aluminium in central clutch operator

When the vehicle changes gear, the central clutch operator interrupts and reconnects the power flow between the engine and the gearbox. This requires a material with very good wear properties, even at high temperatures. Whereas the housing of the central operator was originally made of die-cast aluminium, now the Grivory HT polyphthalamide (PPA) is used. This material is characterised by its high rigidity and strength, and its very good resistance to high temperatures and chemicals.

The central clutch operator from the Opel Corsa, made of Grivory HT

The central clutch operator from the Opel Corsa, made of Grivory HT (source: EMS-CHEMIE AG)

The central clutch operator illustrates the advantages of metal replacement. Using polyphthalamide, a semi-crystalline polyamide, brings advantages in terms of cost, weight and design compared with die casting solutions, without compromising on functionality.

Polyamides used in Opel’s AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting) system

Adaptive headlight: swivelling frame and lens-holder made of Grivory HT

Adaptive headlight: swivelling frame and lens-holder made of Grivory HT (source: EMS-CHEMIE AG)

Another example of the use of EMS polyamides in complex components at Opel is the new generation of adaptive front lights, the AFL (Adaptive Forward Lighting) system, used for example in the Opel Insignia. AFL uses moveable lenses to enable the light to be dynamically adjusted to suit the road. The required manoeuvrability in the headlight unit, which weighs about 0.4 kg, is provided by a swivelling module made of Grivory HT1. This component is exposed to temperatures of up to 150°C for long periods. To guarantee precise angling of the light cone, the swivelling module must not become deformed, nor must any vibrations impair the functioning of the lighting system. Grivory HT1, with its extremely high rigidity, durability and heat resistance, offers the required level of performance for this kind of demanding application where tolerances must be kept to a minimum.

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