A vehicle’s suspension system directly influences vehicle safety, control, and comfort. Air spring technology was first used in heavy-duty and luxury vehicles. In the future it will be used on more vehicle suspension systems to provide improved dynamic ride characteristics and optimum height adjustments, along with better driving comfort and safety, especially with higher loads. Plus, suspension systems also provide improved driving efficiency and CO2 footprint reduction across the entire value chain and a reduced total cost and weight.
Air spring manufacturers know the importance of the materials used for these applications—they have a significant effect on overall performance and weight of the entire suspension system. Plus, the advancement in air spring technology has evolved, creating key trends in material selection, including:
- Replacing metal to address OEM lightweighting expectations
- Increased focus on reducing costs
- Growing OEM demand and focus on sustainability
- Ongoing regulatory push to reduce emissions
- Growing consumer demand/expectation for vehicle comfort
- Continuous demand from OEMs for dynamic suspension tuning
Supply chain issues you can overcome
In the past, manufacturers relied on metal and rubber as primary air spring components, but the growing use of materials, including Polyamide 6 (PA6), Polyamide 66 (PA66) and thermoplastic copolyester (TPC), provide lightweighting and sustainability. Unfortunately, as with many materials, you can expect to experience supply chain challenges with PA66. The raw materials used to make these materials is dominated by a few global suppliers, which limits supply and increases costs.
Meeting performance requirements and more
In addition to supply chain challenges, many of the materials used for air springs are associated with higher costs, inefficiencies, and limited performance and design flexibility. To overcome all these challenges, DSM engineering Materials provides Akulon® PA66, Akulon® PA6 and Arnitel® TPC for air spring components, helping you meet performance, sustainability and lightweighting requirements.
These advanced material solutions provide:
- Excellent thermal performance across a broad temperature range
- High strength and chemical resistant chemistry
- Easy processing and weldability
- Up to 50% lower carbon footprints from bio-based and recycled materials
- Availability outside of traditional supply chain
Akulon® PA6 and Akulon® P66 outperform aluminum in a variety of factors for air suspension components, including processability, application weight, chemical resistance, surface roughness after molding/casting, weldability and total cost.
The unique chemistry of Arnitel® TPC makes it an attractive option because it provides strong, flexible material solutions for boots and bellows within suspension systems. For other components within the system, DSM offers Akulon®, a high-performance TPC material with hard and soft segments that deliver flexibility, high-temperature resistance, strength and excellent processing characteristics. These features make Akulon® PA66 and Akulon® PA6 ideal for suspension components, including pistons, piston pots, contour shells, winding rings and caps, and gaiter pots.
Your source for sustainable solutions
You will find that these advanced materials are not only stronger and lighter than metal or rubber, but they support significant CO2 reduction (per OEM sustainability requirements) without the need for design changes or requalification.
In fact, Akulon® PA6, made from bio-based mass balanced materials can reduce the carbon footprint by approximately 80% from generic PA6.
DSM continues to be on the forefront of developing material solutions formulated for performance and sustainability in suspension system applications and more. In addition to a broad material portfolio, DSM provides all customers services and support in cost assessments, advanced CAE, FMEA analysis, prototyping and part design.