The German automotive supplier ElringKlinger has developed a production-ready, multifunctional car oil pan made of a grade of glass-fiber-reinforced DuPont™ Zytel® nylon resin optimized for use in engine compartments. In addition to the benefits of previous polymer designs, the new pan - designed for use in pick-up trucks - now integrates significant components of the oil-circulation system. This enables a further reduction of vehicle weight as well as manufacturing and assembly costs. Accordingly, the new oil pan is approximately 40% lighter than its aluminum counterpart. the new design from ElringKlinger involves the single-stage production of not just the pan (measuring approximately 550 mm long, 400 mm wide and 300 mm high) but also sections of the pipeline for suction of oil from the sump, the fastening flanges for the pressure pipelines to and from the oil filter and the oil filter flange with a directly encapsulated oil filter thread. Separate injection-molded parts include the two-piece cover of the suction pipe, the double pipe for connection with the oil filter and the cover for the oil filter flange. All of the individual parts, as well as the polymer-encapsulated metal sieve located in the oil intake, are connected to the pan using the cost-efficient friction welding process.
The manufacturer chose Zytel® 70G35 HSLRA4 for the production of the highly integrated oil pan. The nylon 66 is reinforced with 35 wt percent glass fibers and, as a result, is very stiff, creep- and hydrolysis-resistant. It combines high-impact resistance over a wide temperature range with a high resistance to lubricants, road salts and other media commonly present in vehicles. The additional heat stabilization enables the long-term usage of the material at temperatures of up to 150°C and makes it particularly resistant to heat aging. In addition, Franz identifies the low warpage behavior of the material as being of decisive benefit to this application, as it facilitates a durable and reliable seal along the circumference of the oil pan.
Whereas the ribbing located in the upper section of the oil pan principally contributes to dimensional stability in the seal area, the many high ridges in the lower section are designed to absorb external impacts caused, for example, by stones as they are thrown up from the road during normal driving. For the production of the seals between the pan and the engine, as well as for the connection of oil circuit elements, ElringKlinger also chose a material from DuPont Performance Elastomers -- Vamac® -- the highly heat- and oil-resistant ethylene acrylic elastomer that helps ensure that the joints remain leak-free in the long term.