Bioplastics are making steady, if slow, inroads into automotive applications. A particularly interesting new one is a lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in EcoPaXX, DSM’s bio-based polyamide 410, for the latest generation of diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group.
It’s said to be less expensive than aluminum covers made in aluminum. One of the reasons is its production in an integrated, fully automated production cell at KACO, a components supplier based in Heilbronn, Germany. Additionally, the EcoPaXX material is 45% less dense than aluminum. There is also less use of fossil fuel. The specialty polyamide 4/10 is 70% derived from renewable resources, and the polymer is certified 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate.
More details on the production cell are worth noting. Two separate seals are integrated. The first, in PTFE, is placed into the mold by a robot, and EcoPaXX is over-molded onto it; the second, in LSR, is then molded directly into the part using a two-injection barrel process.
“The part comes out of the injection molding cell ready to be assembled onto the engine block,” says Andreas Genesius, head of project management at KACO. “No trimming is necessary at all.”