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Thermoplastic suspension for the Polystrand GT-Lite racecar

News International-French

12 May 2016

The Polystrand GT-Lite racecar, a purpose built racing vehicle featuring an independent rear suspension outfitted with fiber reinforced thermoplastic nylon springs and control arms, competed for the first time at the SCCA Majors event.

The car was designed to highlight the application of thermoplastic composite materials in automotive applications.

“While thermoplastics have been in use in motor vehicles for decades, we believe that this application of continuously reinforced thermoplastics as the primary suspension springs to be the very first in the industry,” said Ed Pilpel, President of Polystrand, Inc. “We strongly believe that reinforced thermoplastics offer an excellent opportunity in automotive lightweighting applications due to their ease and speed of processing, and offer a cost-effective, recyclable alternative to current materials.”

The car, bodied as a 1987 Honda CRX, features a multi-link independent rear suspension system designed by Jonathan Spiegel, Senior Engineer for Polystrand. Spiegel, who also holds a competition license, drove the car at this event. “While we experienced several teething problems in this first outing, chasing minor electrical and braking problems during the event that prevented us from finishing the races, the suspension system performed beyond expectations, allowing us to maintain a second place position while on the track. The MSR track is known for being rough, so this was a good test of the suspension’s compliance. Handling balance was very good, and the car maintained excellent traction at high speeds even over the notoriously bumpy pavement.”

The springs and upper control arms of the rear suspension are manufactured from PA6 nylon resin, and are reinforced with PPG TufRov 4510 continuous E-glass fibers. The prototype springs were compression molded from Polystrand continuously reinforced thermoplastic tape at the Materials Processing and Applications Development (MPAD) Center at The University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) School of Engineering. Also featured on the car is a reinforced polypropylene front splitter, which is an aerodynamic aid, and hybrid interior sandwich panels made of reinforced PETG thermally bonded between thin layers of aluminum and stainless steel, manufactured in-house at Polystrand utilizing PPG TufRov 4588 reinforcement.

About Polystrand:
The company was established in 2004 to develop thermoplastic composites that eliminate waste, can be recycled, and are environmentally friendly. Polystrand is a subsidiary of Gordon Holdings, Inc. Located in Englewood, CO, this state-of-the-art facility is one of the largest manufacturing plants that produces continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic material.

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