US’ Hexion, Rassini work on composite leaf spring in Ford’s new model
June 08, 2021 - United States Of America
Hexion has collaborated with Rassini for composite leaf spring application in Ford’s new model of the F-150 pickup truck. Rassini has developed a hybrid rear suspension, which comprises a parabolic main steel leaf supported by a composite helper. It has used Hexion’s Epikote epoxy resin system since it enables mass production of the composite helper spring.
Rassini manufactures the hybrid rear suspension at its Piedras Negras (Coahuila Mexico) location. With this hybrid suspension, the same stiffness and durability as a conventional multi-steel leaf spring pack is achieved, while realising a significant weight reduction of 16 kilograms. In addition to the positive impact this has on the vehicle’s overall carbon footprint and payload increase, the lighter weight component leaves provide a smoother engagement, less friction and noise.
Rassini’s composite helper spring is produced on new high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) production lines installed in Piedras Negras. With this strategic investment in composite manufacturing capabilities, Rassini has confirmed its position as a technological leader.
Rassini selected Hexion’s Epikote Resin TRAC 06150 with Epikure Curing Agent TRAC 06150 Epoxy resin system as it enables the robust mass production of the composite helper spring. The Epikote Resin TRAC 06720 binder is essential for fabric stabilisation and automated preforming of a large directional stack of fabric plies, and is fully compatible with the fast cure resin system.
In partnership with industry developers, Hexion is constantly adapting its composite resin portfolio to answer manufacturers’ increasing need for strong yet lightweight alternatives to metal, that can be produced at faster speeds. Hexion’s continued advances in resin technology can help manufacturers reduce vehicle weight and at the same time, hasten production of high-performance composite components.
“We are extremely pleased to be a valued partner with Rassini in support of Ford’s iconic F-150 truck,” said Francis Defoor, Hexion's automotive segment leader. “Our expertise in epoxy chemistry as well as our application and process know-how make us a leading development partner for lightweight composite technology.”
“We are very proud of the fact that, together with our highly technical partners such as Hexion and very demanding customers, we have been able to drive forward with innovative solutions and bringing them into large-scale production,” said Brent Collyer, VP engineering - Leaf Springs Suspension Group North America.
Hexion’s epoxy matrix’ thermo-latent behaviour provides a low mixing viscosity for good fibre wet-out and rapid in-mold cure after impregnation. The overall short cycle time in high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) processing leads to efficient capacity utilisation. The epoxy composite helper exhibits a long fatigue life even under exposure to severe application conditions like hot weather, high humidity and contact with automotive fluids.