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Proven metal replacement and parts optimisation with Victrex PEEK polymers

News International-French

21 Feb 2014

Victrex PEEK can withstand the higher temperatures and higher load conditions requested for compact and high-efficiency conventional engines now demanded by the automotive industry

An increasing number of automotive companies are making use of the latest materials technologies as part of their move towards developing powerful, enjoyable, yet affordable vehicles which conform to the latest environmental legislation. Particularly in the highly compact, high-efficiency conventional engines now demanded by the automotive industry, high performance materials such as VictrexPEEK are required that can withstand the higher temperatures and higher load conditions of such engines.

Key automotive components such as gears are prime areas in which significant weight reduction and performance improvements are being achieved through the use of polymer solutions such as Victrex PEEK, in place of metals. In addition to a weight reduction of up to 70%, a reduction in the moment of inertia of up to 80%, reduction of losses due to friction, and noise reduction of up to 50% (3dB), Victrex PEEK has been shown to offer a reliable and efficient replacement for metal gears, leading to overall reduced fuel consumption and improved responsiveness. In other words, the overall system efficiency rises by 9%.

Reliable and efficient gear solutions:
Victrex PEEK 450G and its newly-introduced variants enable automotive designers to reap a wide range of benefits, including: an enhanced lifetime for parts in lubricated applications; no swelling or loss of strength due to moisture absorption; less noise and vibration; low friction and wear; enhanced corrosion resistance; and a reduced need for lubrication, including the most demanding requirements within the engine or actuators. Together, these technical advantages result in extended service intervals for automobiles, and enhanced part and vehicle lifetime.

Proven industry success
In the automotive arena, Victrex has teamed up with customers, including industry-leading companies, to transform their challenges into tangible benefits and successes. US company Melling Engine Parts selected Victrex WG polymer for a small bushing in a water pump. Since this polymer can withstand high loads at elevated temperatures, while reducing frictional losses, energy consumption and component wear and tear, pump lifetime was extended and warranty requirements met.

Likewise, Victrex WG101 grade polymer is being used to minimise frictional losses within similarly extreme environments and it provides outstanding compressive creep resistance. In addition, this grade, and Victrex PEEK polymers generally, can withstand the aggressive automotive fluids and the high temperatures of today's transmissions, with no detectable thermal degradation at 250°C for more than 5.000 hours.

The result, according to customers, is optimized efficiency, reliability and durability, and increased product lifetime. Further, processing Victrex PEEK polymers in injection-moulding production translates into lower overall costs for the customer, compared to the multi-step forging processes that are used for these metal parts.

Strategically, through the research and development effort that has been invested into key polymer materials for this sector, Victrex is poised for decades to apply its polymer solutions throughout a wide range of applications in the automotive industry, with dedicated industry experts covering specific markets globally. The company’s technical expertise includes testing, prototyping and application development support. Meanwhile, further investment in production capacity will guarantee security of supply. Victrex will continue to work closely with its automotive customers, from design concept to the start of production, throughout the entire supply chain.

Victrex Polymer Solutions, headquartered in Thornton Cleveleys, UK, now has 35 years of experience in the application of its thermoplastics, including many applications for significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Victrex PEEK is being used in the most demanding environments due to its excellent resistance to grease, oil particle contamination and current automotive fluids, making it the key proven material of choice in automotive design and manufacture.