Plastic suspension springs could arrive in the automotive industry

A German automotive supplier has developed an innovation for a critical part in every car. Rheinmetall has invented a suspension spring that is up to 75% lighter than a conventional spring because it is made of fiber reinforced plastic.

Your car’s suspension does amazing work. Not only does it have to suspend a few thousand pounds of steel, but it also has to withstand the impacts of rough roads while providing something resembling a comfortable ride. The humble coil spring is a marvel of engineering, which has almost always been made from steel. As first reported by The DriveGerman automotive supplier Rheinmetall think It’s time for a change.

Photo: Rheinmetall

The supplier claims to have developed and tested a potentially revolutionary fiber-reinforced plastic spring prototype. Rheinmetall says this design has a ton of advantages over steel. And a “premium automaker” has already placed an order for these lightweight springs, meaning the technology could hit showrooms soon.

This isn’t the first time fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) has been discovered in car suspension designs. Corvettes have used FRP leaf springs for years, and Audi toyed with the idea of ​​plastic springs in 2014. But this is the first time we’ve seen a plastic spring that could replace the steel coil spring. conventional in everyday production cars.

Rheinmetall claims its FRP springs are up to 75% lighter than a steel spring while offering a greater variety of spring designs. The company says its FRP material also has high inherent damping properties, which should help reduce noise, vibration and harshness. But perhaps the best selling point is that these springs won’t rust and they can adapt to the same space than existing steel springs. The new spring has already found its way into the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept.

Plastic suspension springs could arrive in the automotive industryPhoto: Mercedes-Benz

Rheinmetall says its FRP springs were shown to the public in an unnamed automaker’s test vehicle. While both Rheinmetall and the unnamed automaker are sworn to secrecy, the springs have apparently passed extensive testing and have been accepted by the automaker for potential production use. However, it’s unclear when we might see this technology in a mainstream automobile.