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High-performance, composite nylon/steel gears turn electric power steering into reality

Quadrant EPP : 07 April, 2000  (New Product)
Electric power steering for automobiles has arrived, and a key component of this revolutionary system is its worm gear made of NylasteelT, from DSM Engineering Plastic products.
Electronic power steering systems eliminate the traditional hydraulic system's power steering pump, hoses, hydraulic fluid, and drive belt and pulley on the engine. Further, EPS offers packaging flexibility and significantly reduces the amount of energy drawn from the engine, thus improving fuel economy, acceleration, and dependability. EPS offers the feel and handling of a traditional hydraulic-powered system, without the loss of power that results from a hydraulic pump running off belts and pulleys driven by the motor.

Some systems allow for adjustment of the steering tightness, or feel by the driver at any speed, while others are used primarily for slow-speed operation, where power assist is most needed. At present, EPS systems are used on smaller engine cars, where power consumption is a critical factor for all accessories.

A typical EPS system has an electric motor, sensors, a worm-gear assembly and complex algorithms to provide power assistance during steering. One of the biggest challenges to developing the EPS was how to manufacture the worm gear, through which the electric motor supplies the power assist. The requirements are:

Resistance, during aggressive steering maneuvers, to both the maximum input torque and resultant axial force of the worm gear.

Reduction of vibration and noise.
Low friction and precision tolerances for all gear surfaces.
Ability to be press-fit to a steel shaft.
Durability and fatigue resistance for the life of the vehicle.

The key component of this revolutionary system is its worm gear made of NylasteelT.

After extensive performance trials of many plastics, including specialty nylons, acetals and other reinforced engineering plastics, NylasteelT was found to provide the highest performance. The long-term strength and fatigue resistance of the nylon used to make NylasteelT is far greater than all other materials, including aramid-fiber-reinforced injection molded nylon compounds.

NylasteelT and Toughrod (available in Japan) are a family of products based on DSM's anionically-polymerized nylon 6, permanently attached to specially treated steel cores, which are designed for power transmission components, such as gears, sprockets and rollers. The products are supplied as billets in both standard and custom sizes and as custom molded individual blanks, which can be cut and machined to final gear dimensions, using CNC lathes, before the final enveloping worm gear tooth profile is machined into the OD.

DSM offers NylasteelT billet with either its Nylatron NSM or MC 901. The advantages of these products include:

The ability to be rigidly attached to a steel shaft.
Unmatched fatigue resistance and durability for applications below 200 F ambient conditions.
A cost-effective solution to the manufacture of many plastic/metal assemblies.
Increased load, horsepower and torque capacity, due to the steel core.

DSM Engineering Plastic Products is the world leader in the manufacture of engineering thermoplastics in rod and plate and electrostatic dissipative stock shapes for machining. DSM also produces custom nylon castings. The quality of products made by DSM Engineering Plastic Products is monitored statistically at critical stages of their manufacture. Full support in evaluating designs and machining of parts is available from DSM Engineering Plastic Products' Technical Support Group.
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