Vizilon® TPC Offers Lightweight Strength in Oil Pan Engineering Challenge

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DuPont, working with specialty auto parts manufacturer Nifco UK, has developed and produced an innovative oil pan using Vizilon® TPC that enables engine weight reduction.

The oil pan was engineered to be stronger and lighter than steel counterparts. Tipping the scales at 1 kg less than an equivalent steel pan, the part was built with continuous glass fibers that delivered optimum performance while keeping weight to a bare minimum.

Oil pans are subject to significant physical stresses, including vibration, impacts by stones and other road debris and exposure to extreme heat. Through advanced materials and thoughtful design, this cutting-edge oil pan is demonstrating the effectiveness of Vizilon® TPC as an effective tool for engine weight reduction while maintaining the strength and heat-resistance required in automotive applications.

The collaboration between DuPont and Nifco UK was part of the Jaguar Land Rover ALIVE6 Project, a research consortium aimed at expanding the United Kingdom’s profile in the automotive sector. With government funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the project’s immediate goal is to improve the performance of the Jaguar Land Rover Ingenium family of engines, striving to maximize fuel efficiency while maintaining the unique in-vehicle feel of this venerable automotive brand. Grainger and Worrall, Bosch (UK) LTD, and Mahle Powertrain also participated in the research. 

“This is a major success for a new material and a new technology that has been possible through our working with Nifco to become an innovative leader in this oil pan market,” said Anthony Loth, program leader at DuPont. “We believe Vizilon® TPC lightweighting solution will thrive in the future composite oil pan business.” 

Nifco UK says it hopes to see the part in full production within the next few years. “Metal was once considered to be the only material resilient and heat-resistant enough to withstand the loads within a car engine, but with new technology comes the opportunity to create ever-more effective and efficient products,” said Mike Matthews, managing director at Nifco UK.

The program succeeded thanks to the close teamwork between DuPont researchers and Nifco designers. Bringing together product designers and material and processing specialists from the outset is key to successfully replacing metal with new materials and achieving engine weight reduction, according to Loth.

“We have worked very closely with DuPont to adjust the design and optimize the process to answer the cycle time requirements of the mass series production,” said Nifco’s Matthews. “We are proud that this collaboration has produced a part that we know will add real value for our customers.”