Rassini, a Mexican auto supplier with its North American headquarters in Plymouth Township, has joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham to engineer a lightweight thermoplastic suspension system to help automotive OEMs meet fuel economy regulations.
"As the demand for composite materials continues to grow across all industries, Rassini is committed to improving its work product," says Bob Friedrichs, vice president of corporate engineering for the North American Suspension Group at Rassini. "We want to leverage our technological expertise and help identify state-of-the-art concepts that generate significant contributions related to thermoplastics and suspension design."
Under the three-year agreement, Friedrichs says Rassini will use the University of Alabama's Materials Processing and Applications Development Center, which is equipped with large scale manufacturing facilities that provides prototyping opportunities. Alabama engineering students will be able to examine and study the applications for thermoplastic fiber-reinforced polymer in a vehicle's suspension system.
Friedrichs says a lightweight alternative to vehicle suspension platforms will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help OEMs meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Such a system also would be recyclable.
"The success of this effort could ensure automakers are provided with eco-friendly technology embracing the new paradigm in design, from cradle to cradle," Friedrichs adds.
The University of Alabama and Rassini collaborated last year in the development of a lightweight, high performance vehicle that competed in the Grand Touring Lite classification of the Sports Car Club of America.
In July, Rassini expanded its suspension components to include leaf springs for the North American heavy commercial truck market.