How does Freudenberg come into the picture?
Our nonwovens can be used very efficiently in lightweight construction. A textile underbody made of nonwoven material is substantially lighter than an injection molded underbody. With injection molding, the material has a much higher density.
The same applies to acoustics. One option is to use heavyweight barrier layers to block the noise source, whereby a noise hits this layer and is then reflected. However, our nonwoven solutions are absorbing: they absorb this noise and convert the sound energy into heat energy within the material. Absorbing solutions are somewhat more voluminous, with a large number of air inclusions, and are therefore substantially lighter.
However, lightweight construction is not the only factor in favor of our absorbing solutions. Various countries are planning regulations that aim to significantly reduce the level of noise created by a car. In Japan, for example, a car is only permitted to produce a maximum background noise level. But if you are using a reflective system, the noise bounces off, making the car sound louder to people outside the vehicle, such as pedestrians. Our lightweight solution absorbs noise, thus making the car quieter to the outside world.
Can you give other examples of how Freudenberg is supporting vehicle manufacturers in lightweight construction?
Sure. For example with modern luggage compartment partitions, so-called cargo covers. These are currently mainly made of PVC. Our team in Korea worked with an automotive manufacturer to find alternatives to this PVC solution. For environmental and health reasons, they want to dispense with the use of PVC. A further reason is the issue of weight, which they want to reduce. If they replace PVC with nonwovens, they save up to 400 grams per square meter of material. With 1.0 to 1.5 square meters of cargo covers in the car, that makes a big difference. Aside from the question of weight, traditional PVC cargo covers often freeze solid in cold weather, which makes them hard to move. In contrast, our solution remains flexible even at extreme temperatures.
How long has Freudenberg been working in the area of lightweight construction?
We have been developing lightweight carpets for vehicles since 2007. Underbody systems has been optimized since 2014, and acoustic solutions have been in development for years as well.
So we’re not talking about one material that Freudenberg uses in different ways, but about various performance materials.