Rheinmetall has developed a new glass fiber suspension spring. In cooperation with a premium OEM, the Düsseldorf-based technology group has now presented this product in a prototype testbed vehicle. Featuring a patented design, the new spring won over the automaker due primarily to its significant weight advantage in the unsprung mass as well as its performance.
Because they connect the wheels to the chassis, suspension springs play a vital role in influencing a vehicle’s safety and how it handles. The new glass fiber-reinforced plastic springs result in a weight advantage in the unsprung mass of up to 75% compared with conventional steel coil springs, making them particularly suitable for range-optimized electric vehicles.
In addition to lower weight, the development team attached central importance to maximum pitch and roll stability, high inherent damping of the material, and assuring optimum noise, vibration and harshness characteristics. Another advantage of the glass fiber-reinforced springs compared with conventional steel springs is their resistance to corrosion, as plastic can only be corroded by certain chemicals, not by oxygen and water.
The springs fit into the same installation space as standard springs and feature outstanding fatigue strength, including very good emergency operating characteristics that enable the vehicle to continue driving.
The project followed an initial order placed by the automaker in early 2021. Following the development phase at Rheinmetall’s Neckarsulm plant in southwest Germany, the glass fiber springs were recently installed in the test vehicle at the cooperation partner’s location under conditions of strict secrecy. There, the springs had to pass an intensive testing program involving actual trials prior to being successfully accepted.
Further development work with other leading automobile manufacturers is already underway.