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Three companies partner to produce first injection molded air intake manifold for automotive performance

Solvay Advanced Polymers Llc : 19 February, 2003  (Technical Article)
The new LSX air intake manifold, introduced at the November Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association show by Fuel-Air-Spark Technologies, is the first known composite manifold to be produced for the automotive performance aftermarket.
F.A.S.T., a company in the Competition Cams group of performance parts providers, had two key partners in this innovative project, along with renowned airflow expert Keith Wilson of Wilson Manifolds. The new manifold was engineered and designed by Managed Programs, L.L.C., and it is supplied by Composite Performance Technologies, L.L.C. These two affiliated companies have global experience in the creation of composite components for automotive original-equipment manufacturers.

F.A.S.T. wanted a part that outperformed the stock nylon manifold, but that was not subject to the weight and heat penalties imposed by a traditional aluminum replacement. The material specified for the LSX is AMODEL A-6135 HSL polyphthalamide from Solvay Advanced Polymers, L.L.C.

Unique in the aftermarket
The LSX manifold will replace the stock air intake that comes with the eight-cylinder LS1 and LS6 engines in the current Corvette and in recent models of the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.

Through design iterations, Wilson and Managed Programs were able to increase the airflow by 25%. Manifold design engineer Tim Collins of MPI points out that “we also made the runners longer to maintain low-end torque for driveability.” With no modifications, Collins estimates that the LSX will add 20 horsepower to the 360 generally available from the V-8s it is designed to fit. “The three-piece design makes additional tweaking do-able for the competent enthusiast. Being able to look down the runner at the intake valve, for example, simplifies the job of port matching, which can account for 50 additional horsepower in a normally aspirated engine.”

Details in the LSX design will also accommodate techniques that can push engine output beyond 600 hp, such as adding a turbocharger or engine-driven supercharger to pressurize intake air, or including such combustion enhancements as a nitrous oxide delivery system to the intake setup. High performance, low volume manufacturing.

The innovative multi-layer design allowed CPT to employ manufacturing strategies that make the low-volume program profitable. The stock part is cast of glass-reinforced nylon 6/6, essentially in one piece, using the lost core method. The three sections of the LSX, however, can be injection molded in open molds, taking time and money out of the molding process.

“Low-volume production can be treated in the same way as a high-volume prototype program,” explains Dan Agnew, President of CPT. “Effectively, we have eliminated the prototype stage, going directly to tools that will easily produce the number of parts anticipated for many years of production. By using rapid molded parts to prove the design, by keeping tooling costs down, and by being smart about the use of roduction molding equipment and time, we can keep the parts affordable for our customer.”
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