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News

DuPont resins enable greater tyre safety

Du Pont Engineering Polymers : 27 June, 2005  (New Product)
A new low-cost system for tyre pressure monitoring, manufactured by SmarTire Systems Inc. of Canada, uses rugged, extremely lightweight sensors made with DuPont Zytel HTN high performance polyamide and Zytel nylon 66. Spurred by demands to extend tyre life and improve safety, tyre-pressure monitoring, which is already widely used in heavy trucks and other commercial vehicles, is set for a major expansion in passenger cars. Recent US legislation requires all light passenger vehicles built or imported into the US to be equipped with tyre monitoring systems by the 2008 model year.
A new low-cost system for tyre pressure monitoring, manufactured by SmarTire Systems Inc. of Canada, uses rugged, extremely lightweight sensors made with DuPont Zytel HTN high performance polyamide and Zytel nylon 66. Spurred by demands to extend tyre life and improve safety, tyre-pressure monitoring, which is already widely used in heavy trucks and other commercial vehicles, is set for a major expansion in passenger cars. Recent US legislation requires all light passenger vehicles built or imported into the US to be equipped with tyre monitoring systems by the 2008 model year.

The in-tyre sensor weighs just 30 grams, whereby reduced weight is a crucial advantage for parts mounted inside the tyre, as they must withstand loads produced by centrifugal forces up to 3,000 times that of gravity. Heavier sensor parts would increase strength requirements, further adding to weight. In addition, tyre balancing would require bulkier weights and become more difficult to maintain. 'In selecting materials for the sensor's structural parts, we needed high strength, stiffness and toughness at elevated temperatures in order to meet design goals for the lowest possible weight,' said Kian Bahaie, senior mechanical engineer for SmarTire. The company also had to minimise the use of glass fibre reinforcement as it would both add to part weight and cause problems with radio frequency signals, which transmit tyre pressure data from inside the tyre to a processing unit mounted in the vehicle.

Following the evaluation of several plastics, Zytel HTN resin provided the solution. Thanks to the material's high strength and stiffness at elevated temperatures, the SmarTire engineering team achieved their design goals for the sensor's main load-bearing parts, namely the support cradle and housing body, with a grade containing only 15 percent by weight of glass fibre. The combined weight of the body and cradle parts totals less than 15 grams. 'Zytel HTN gives us the high strength and stiffness needed to withstand high 'G' loads at operating temperatures of about 120C, but with peaks of 170C.'

Another part of the sensor, the cover for the housing body, is subjected to lower loads than the cradle and body, but requires excellent toughness for snap-fit assembly to the body. SmarTire has a tough, lightweight, cost-effective solution with a Zytel nylon resin combining impact-modified PA66 polymer and 13 percent glass reinforcement.

Moulding economy is a key benefit with both materials, according to Bahaie: 'They give us excellent moulding productivity, and our moulders can use water rather than oil to control mould temperature.'

Based on its experience with DuPont engineering plastics in meeting design goals for its passenger car systems, SmarTire is moving toward their use in several other tyre monitoring systems. The company supplies systems for commercial vehicles, motorcycles and heavy-duty, off-road equipment.
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