Engineering Materials

Leveraging thermoplastic expertise to optimize system designs

Manufacturers worldwide are focused on developing next-generation products. Strategically replacing traditional metal parts with robust thermoplastics components can vastly enhance system performance, safety, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal ­– while lowering weight and costs. DSM combines unmatched expertise in system design with market-proven engineering materials to enable you to exceed OEMs’ expectations, reduce operating costs and elevate overall product quality. 

Shifting from metal material solutions to thermoplastics drives product improvements, cost-savings, and reduced environmental impact across the world’s largest manufacturing industries. In passenger and heavy vehicle production, replacing steel and aluminium parts can substantially lower vehicle weight and improve fuel efficiency. As a result, the global market for lightweight materials for automotive applications is expected to be worth $105.4 billion USD by 2027 – compared to $69.1 billion USD in 2020.

Yet, it’s critical that you understand exactly how system parts made from engineering thermoplastics will behave once in operation. You need to ensure plastic components effectively interoperate with metal ones, fit within the available design space, and support integrated functionality requirements, such as placing conductive copper tracks on parts through laser directed structuring (LDS). Failing to consider every end-product safety and performance factor during your system design process can lead to lengthy redesign cycles or system malfunctions that result in late market entry, accidents or recalls.

At the same time, OEMs demand shorter design cycles to get final products to market faster and stay ahead of competitors. This leaves you with less time to investigate possible failure modes, particularly when developing a more complex system. You may also need to adhere to strict timelines and budgets for part and system testing and validation cycles, new product sustainability requirements, or requests for last minute changes in system capabilities.

DSM helps you gain a competitive advantage by acting as your partner through each stage of evolving your system design process. With our comprehensive material, design and industry expertise, we collaborate with you to determine the most reliable and cost-effective solutions for developing thermoplastic parts optimized for your unique system requirements.

Streamlining your material selection process  

Our team takes in all specifications for your system and its components to identify the material grades that best meet your needs at the lowest cost. We provide recommendations based on rigorous testing to determine how polymers respond to real-life conditions and which manufacturing processes you’ll use to mold and assemble parts. In response to increasing demand for low-carbon materials, we currently offer a broad range of lightweight, high-performance recycle- or bio-based solutions, and are on track to deliver a complete portfolio of these materials by 2030.

Accelerating your design timeline  

As potential material solutions are selected, we use state-of-the-art computer-aided engineering (CAE) to create 3D concepts for component designs. Combining all system part requirements, including wall thickness, behavior under operating conditions, and compatibility with secondary manufacturing processes, we work with you to determine the ideal design and material for any thermoplastic components built into your end-product.

To speed up testing and validation processes and protect your reputation, we leverage advanced CAE to accurately predict part fatigue lifetime and potential failure modes. These services are tailored to individual customer requirements, such as enhanced thermal performance and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).  

Lowering your short- and long-term costs

Embracing unfamiliar materials and ways of working is a significant investment for your team. DSM’s customer success services are designed to help you operate more cost-effectively – from the concept phase to final product production. Our prototyping support includes on-site manufacturing process and tooling optimization to minimize part defect rates and give your teams the opportunity to test the production set-up with our assistance. Our application specialists are available to work with your value analysis and value engineering (VA/VE) teams to help determine your part and system costs and total cost of ownership – and predict long-term savings afforded by transitioning from metal materials to thermoplastics.

DSM’s priority is empowering our customers to succeed. Our goal is to provide you with peace of mind throughout the entire system development journey, through our in-depth material, design and system expertise. By collaborating to enhance system performance, reliability and sustainability, while lowering costs, we’re ready to help you strengthen your relationships with OEMs, and bring truly differentiated final products to market ahead of schedule.

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Published on

08 September 2022

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jippe van Ruiten

Advanced Development Manager Mechatronics at DSM Engineering Materials

Jippe Van Ruiten is Advanced Development Manager Mechatronics at DSM Engineering Materials. He studied polymer physics at University of Groningen and after graduation started his career at DSM in 1988. He held many positions mostly related to application and business development in fibres & films, automotive and now in mechatronics.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Ron Krotwaar

System Expert

Ron Krotwaar is system expert in lightweighting and holds a Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering obtained at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Since 1999 Ron has held many roles at DSM, most recently focusing on lightweighting, automotive powertrain, structural parts and robotic arms.