Composite materials are increasingly penetrating the transport industry, reclaiming the place of metal in aircraft, marine and river vessels. Not an exception and cars of all kinds: cars, trucks, buses and other public transport.
In the commercial segment, the use of composites plays a special role: reducing the mass of the actual vehicle will allow it to take on board a little more cargo, which, of course, is attractive to consumers. “If the regulator’s demands for transportation make it necessary to radically reduce the weight of the car, the current level of development of the chemical industry will allow it to be done,” Maxim Levinson, technical support manager for the Scania-Rus technical support and guarantee department, told RG. However, in his opinion, the use of composites in cars should be justified. Now, for example, in a 4×2 truck, 450 horsepower, polymers and elastomers occupy 12.3 percent, in a 4×2 bus chassis, 280 hp, 12.4. A certain proportion of composites – 1.5 percent – is even in motors.

So, the expert said, Scania’s engines use fiberglass-reinforced plastic for making crankcase pans and cylinder head covers, cooling fans and heater dampers. Composites made of polypropylene plastic and mineral wool are used as noise and heat insulation. Dubbed with PVC cloth used for interior finishing of cabins and salons. “But the use of composites for the manufacture of frames, blocks of cylinders or other power elements for today has no economic sense,” – said Maxim Levinson.

“Increasing the proportion of composites in the construction of cars is not an end in itself. An end in itself is to provide the required characteristics of the car (including reliability) at the minimum cost of buying and owning. If in some cases the use of composites meets this goal, we use composites, “the WG reported to the GAZ Group.

The use of composite materials for the power structure of the body of cars is not yet advisable
Now the domestic automaker widely uses composite materials in both external and internal decoration of buses. In the exterior, fiberglass consists of front and rear masks, bumpers, linings, skirts of the bus, roof. In the interior is used a wider range of composites: from fiberglass and ABS-plastic, complex shaped parts are made, from decorative paper-laminated plastic, a flat lining of the sides is made. But for the power structure of the body the use of composites is poorly grounded.

In general, the GAZ Group underlined, when analyzing the design of a new part, in each specific case, a number of factors are taken into account, in the end, the best option is chosen from the “function-cost” considerations. The cost also includes the cost of preparing the production. It can not be said that in all cases a composite or metal part wins, it depends very much on a number of factors. For example, parts with a small thickness and a large surface area are more profitable to make of composites or stamping out of steel, and details of small dimensions and complex shapes are cast or forged from metal. And while there are no composites that would completely replace metal by their characteristics. An example is an engine piston operating at a high temperature.


Photo: Archive DAF Trucks Russia