Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a global leader in highly engineered, composite vehicle components, announced it is supplying Ford Motor Company with the industry’s first composite, dual-wall-dash engine shroud for use in the 2020 Ford Explorer.
This sheet molded compound (SMC) advanced composite shroud significantly reduces the powertrain noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) experienced in the vehicle cabin.
Developed in collaboration with Ford using the tools in Ford’s new NVH lab, the composite engine shroud creates an air gap between the engine compartment and the steel front bulkhead by wrapping around the back of the engine and meeting the strut towers on each side of the engine bay. This composite dual-wall-dash offers a number of benefits over the all-steel components used in competitors’ luxury SUV models.
Acoustically, the composite provides an improved sound barrier over competitive materials. The shroud also achieves a mass reduction; at just 12 pounds, the four-piece assembly is lighter than a similar shroud stamped from steel. And because it is made from composites, it offers the moldability and design flexibility needed to support a complex, under- hood packaging environment. The composite dual wall dash also:
- Reduces engine noise
- Improves acoustics by dissipating sound before it reaches the primary dash panel
- Provides superior thermal protection for electrical components
- Accommodates engine assembly and serviceability concerns
“Composites are a great choice for a number of under-the-hood applications, because of these properties, and the design flexibility they provide,” explained Bryan Ludwig, Business Development Director at CSP. “Because our glass fiber composite is a thermoset, it actually offers better thermal properties than a metal, and can be molded thin enough to fit in the tight spaces found in the engine compartment.”
“We are continually looking for ways to help our customers meet design and engineering challenges by using our composite materials,” added Steve Rooney, CEO of CSP. “Because of the superior dampening qualities offered by a composite, Ford was able to achieve a level of cabin quietness that will enhance the driving experience for Explorer and Aviator owners.”
The dual wall dash is being manufactured at the Continental Structural Plastics facility in Conneaut, Ohio. This 190,000 square-foot facility sits on 33 acres in northeastern Ohio, and employs 260 people. The facility, which is celebrating 50 years in operation in 2019, makes a number of structural composite parts for automotive and commercial customers.