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News

World's first air spring damper strut for innovative air suspension module on Land Rover's new Range Rover

Du Pont Engineering Polymers : 31 October, 2002  (New Product)
Delphi Automotive's highly innovative individual air suspension module is a star feature of Land Rover's new Range Rover, for which it was specially developed. Key to the success of the module is the world's first automotive air spring damper strut with side load compensation. Two of the four modules, situated at the front of the car near the engine, incorporate a complex piston made of glass reinforced DuPont Zytel HTN high performance polyamide.
Delphi Automotive's highly innovative individual air suspension module is a star feature of Land Rover's new Range Rover, for which it was specially developed. Key to the success of the module is the world's first automotive air spring damper strut with side load compensation. Two of the four modules, situated at the front of the car near the engine, incorporate a complex piston made of glass reinforced DuPont Zytel HTN high performance polyamide.

Land Rover of Solihull, BMW of Munich (initially responsible for the development of the car), Delphi Automotive's Luton and Paris offices, as well as DuPont specialists in the UK and France, worked together for over two years to develop these automotive pistons for the air spring damper strut. The pistons are made of a new, specially tailored 35 percent glass reinforced grade of Zytel HTN that combines very high temperature resistance with outstanding burst and compressive pressure strength.

The complete Delphi air suspension module consists of an air spring (made of a composite rubber air sleeve with aramid reinforcements crimped at each end to a top mount and a piston), assembled and sealed around a twin tube, gas-charged damper strut. With a 28 mm solid rod and a 65 mm damper tube, Delphi says that the twin tube damper struts are the largest automotive shock absorbers ever produced.

The injection-moulded piston part of Zytel HTN provides triple functionality. Firstly it acts as a guide on which the flexible, rubber air sleeve moves up and down with the suspension strokes. Secondly, the high performance polyamide parts efficiently seal the rubber air sleeve, which is crimped using a new manufacturing procedure developed by Delphi. Third, its excellent surface finish provides a smooth surface for the internal O-rings to seal against the damper strut.

In certain vehicle operations, the air spring module experiences extremely high pressure peaks under severe temperatures, ranging from minus 40C to plus 100C. Therefore, the complete air spring, and the piston made of Zytel HTN, were tested to 65 bar burst pressure. In addition, each air spring module produced at Delphi Luton is finally leak-tested at 10-bar air pressure.

Sources at Delphi Automotive in Luton and Paris confirmed that the newly-developed, 35 percent glass reinforced grade of Zytel HTN was the material that best resisted three crucial factors: the high engine temperatures where the front two modules are positioned; the highly demanding burst pressure testing requirement and the crimping forces used to seal the rubber air sleeve. The previously used, metal cast piston technology would have been too bulky, heavy and expensive to be incorporated on each of the Range Rover's four wheels for an individual air suspension system.
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