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Off-highway oil pan is a polyamide first

01 May 2010

The four largest polyamide oil pans that have gone into production to date are made from BASF’s Ultramid polyamide 66. Designed and manufactured by Hummel Formen in Lenningen, Germany, they are currently used on MTU Friedrichshafen BR1600 Series engines driving stationary generators, as well as agricultural and construction machinery

For the first time, die-cast or sand cast aluminium oil pans have been replaced by polyamide versions in large, off-highway engine applications. Compared with their metal counterparts, polyamide oil pans provide significant weight savings of between 40 and 50%. Destined for the new BR1600 diesel engines manufactured by MTU Friedrichshafen, these oil pans are made of BASF Ultramid A3HG7 Q17, a high-strength, hot oil-resistant polyamide 66 resin.

The engines in question include the R6, V-8, V-10 and V-12 diesel units with total displacements from 10.5 to 21 litres and outputs from 270 to 730kW. Full-scale production started in autumn of 2009 for the V-12 engine, which is used to drive emergency power and constant current generators. Construction, agricultural and industrial machinery such as combine harvesters, cranes and shredders will be fitted with these polyamide oil pan equipped engines in the near future.
The V12 engine pan has a volume of up to 70 litres and its length at up to 1.2m, makes it the largest of its kind in the world. All four oil pans, which vary in shape according to engine type, are injection moulded using a multi-purpose tool with interchangeable inserts by Hummel Formen of Lenningen, Germany. Depending on which of the three V-engine versions the oil pan is to be manufactured (V8, V10 or V12), this flexible, multi-purpose mould can be quickly converted by simply exchanging inserts.

Simulation and test
This is a particularly demanding application for what is essentially a plastic component. As well as offering good flow characteristics for injection moulding, the resin must also be capable of withstanding prolonged contact with a variety of oils at 120°C. And, as the engine must sometimes rest on the oil pan, the material must also provide appropriate rigidity, as well as an ability to absorb impacts and vibration.

BASF contributed to the successful development of these products with the aid of its UltraSIM universal simulation tool. In addition to fill, warpage, creep, natural frequency and modal analyses, several other parameters were investigated with the aid of this application, including static bursting pressure and oil pan heating under tension.

Load tests performed on BASF’s shaker facility demonstrated the resin’s ability to satisfy extremely demanding specifications such as resistance to ageing when immersed in oil. No leaks were detectable after one million shock cycles at different acceleration rates with the pans exposed to hot oil.

These MTU units represent BASF’s latest venture into the development of polyamide engine oil pans for heavy vehicles. Predecessors include the first polyamide oil pan for truck applications, the Mercedes Actros BR 500 (2003). Others include an oil pan for the Avalon series of engines from Cummins and one for the Ford Scorpion in 2009.

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