Advancing lightweighting solutions to the industry



Patrick Ferronato, Thermoplastic Composites Business Director, Geneva, Switzerland, talks about how DuPont is helping automakers take weight out of vehicles by advancing lightweighting solutions to the industry.

How is DuPont helping automakers to reduce weight?


Patrick Ferronato: DuPont recognized that large-scale adoption of affordable lightweighting technologies that significantly reduce vehicle mass will require a number of breakthroughs best achieved through collaborative efforts throughout the value chain.


Whether in individual cars or public transportation, the opportunity is to make all of these vehicles lighter. One way we continue to advance our lightweighting solutions is through our thermoplastic composite offering—DuPont™ Vizilon® TPC. We are committed to collaborating with automakers and tier one component manufacturers to develop new products, materials, components and systems that help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and protect people and the environment.


What is DuPont™ Vizilon® TPC?


Patrick Ferronato: DuPont™ Vizilon® TPC is a technology that combines strength and stiffness into a lightweight structure to help automakers replace metal and continue to reduce weight in structural vehicle applications.


DuPont™ Vizilon® TPC sheets offer better stiffness properties that can’t be obtained with standard thermoplastic resins, creating more opportunities to reduce vehicle mass.


Does Vizilon® TPC enable best practices for design considerations?


Patrick Ferronato: DuPont recognizes that the most effective way to reduce weight is to design for plastic first, rather than using plastics in parts that are designed for metal. DuPont thermoplastic composite technology offers a holistic approach—an approach which includes design, materials and processing—all working together to take out weight. Designing for plastic rather than using plastic in a component designed for metals requires a different approach and material data, but helps ensure we capture all the lightweighting, strength and functional benefits.


DuPont uses advanced FEA (finite element analysis) technology for composites to support part design and performance prediction. And we’ve also installed part manufacturing processing capabilities to support process development, prototyping and demonstration.


Why is DuPont investing in new technologies like Vizilon® TPC?


Patrick Ferronato: DuPont is committed to collaborating on ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and is aggressively working with automakers on programs that bring to market low-emission, fuel-efficient vehicles that are safe, affordable and fun to drive.


DuPont Performance Polymers, with the industry’s broadest and deepest polymers portfolio and global development capabilities, is committed to working with the automotive industry to reduce component weight. In an August 2013 industry survey conducted by WardsAuto, results compiled from 1,300 automotive engineers tell us that materials are critical to a product’s success, and that the value for lightweighting to help meet fuel economy targets is increasing. Furthermore, the survey results also show that engineers view every system in the vehicle as a candidate for reduced mass. So, to further help the industry solve these challenges, we’re focusing on:


  • Lightweighting, which improves fuel economy, reduces CO2 emissions, and has been identified by the auto industry as one of the primary ways to meet new and emerging global emissions and fuel economy standards.
  • Responding to the critical need for lighter, stronger structural materials.
  • Recognizing that more than one-third of the fuel consumption in a fossil fuel-powered vehicle is dependent on mass, according to OEM data.


DuPont has a long history of working with value chain partners to bring breakthrough and award-winning metals replacement programs to market. Can you tell us more about this?


Patrick Ferronato: We have a long history of application development and collaboration programs that have led to breakthrough metals replacement, including the world’s first high-volume manifold of plastic and the world’s first commercial volume oil pan of thermoplastic for passenger vehicles.


And today DuPont is investing in new technologies like Vizilon® TPC for lightweighting and fuel efficiency. DuPont is also investing in global collaboration tools through its network of eleven Innovation Centers worldwide to connect customers with 10,000 DuPont scientists and engineers. Four of our centers are focused on the automotive industry.


What are some examples of DuPont collaboration with the auto industry to meet lightweighting goals?


Patrick Ferronato: DuPont and PSA Peugeot Citroen recently partnered to manufacture and test a side-intrusion beam using Vizilon® continuous woven glass fiber, which is compatible with the global online painting process. Results show:


  • There has been a 40% weight reduction compared to ultra-high strength (UHS) steel.
  • DuPont™ Vizilon® TPC technology absorbs more energy than metals, making it well suited for crash components.
  • DuPont thermoplastic composite technology reinforced beam delivers 5.4 times more energy absorption than a short glass fiber polymer beam.