Unique integrated aero feature improves fuel economyThe part features vertical slots in front corners by left- and right-side fog lamps that function as dedicated air channels, capturing and directing incoming air to vents in the front wheel wells. As the high-speed curtain of air flows across the wheels, it reduces turbulence caused by wheel rotation, which aids fuel efficiency, increases downforce, and improves road handling and stability at higher speeds.
Parts consolidation reduces weight and cost, saves assembly time and tooling investmentTraditional fog-lamp bezels have been multi-piece assemblies with 3-4 brackets and separate air ducts that had to be sonically welded to the bezel during a post-mold finishing step. However, by integrating the duct into the fog lamp bezel and the B-side of the fog-lamp bracket along with the park/turn lamp assembly, all functional benefits are maintained or improved while lowering mass 20 percent and reducing part complexity. In turn, this has helped Ford save 30-seconds assembly time at the company's assembly plant due to elimination of the separate brackets. The idea for the integrated design came from Vince Carnes, release engineer at Ford who recalls he was benchmarking different vehicles to determine how many pieces made up various assemblies and thought that the fog-lamp bezel assembly could benefit from parts consolidation.
Demanding performance and aesthetic requirements drove material selectionThe part had to meet demanding performance specifications including both 49CFR Part 581/ECE R42 Low Speed Impact as well as GTR-9 Pedestrian Lower Leg (TRL) requirements. It also required dimensional stability over a broad temperature range and the strength to hold fog lamps without juddering during driving while also meeting noise/vibration/harshness (NVH) targets. Another important property was stiffness to prevent sagging across the 500mm/19.7-inch long, 450mm/17.7-inch tall, 240mm/9.45-inch deep part with 3.0mm/0.118 inch nominal wall. Further, the part needed good heat-aging properties, resistance to automotive chemicals and road salts, and resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight, which is very important as this is an unpainted exterior part. During the two-year development period, all design and computer-aided simulation work, as well as physical testing, including wind-tunnel evaluation, was done in-house at the automaker achieving good correlation between predicted and measured properties.
Collaborative innovation leads to the right material and molding solutionsStyrolution worked with both Flex-N-Gate and Ford to help identify the right Luran S grade to meet design as well as manufacturing targets for the application. The grade chosen was Luran S 777K in black. This unreinforced, easy-flow, injection-molding grade provided excellent physical and mechanical properties to meet the application's requirements as well as cost targets. Luran S products offer excellent heat-aging properties, which protect against loss of mechanical and aesthetic properties caused by prolonged exposure to temperature fluctuations. It also features a special UV-stabilization package for enhanced weatherability to preserve part aesthetics even under heavy exposure to sun, wind, rain, ice, and snow. Thanks to excellent dimensional stability and minimal warpage, parts produced with this material also are able to meet Ford’s stringent gap requirements.
Final part weight for models with fog lamps was 0.890 pounds/0.404 kilograms and for models without fog lamps was 0.935 pounds/0.424 kg.
Luran S resin is ideal for exterior automotive partsComponents, such as the Ford fog lamp bezel with aero curtain benefit from Luran S resin's balanced property profile, including dimensional stability, strength, stiffness, and impact resistance. These properties ensure the aero feature is able to provide consistent mechanical performance while lowering mass, saving money, eliminating secondary operations, and speeding assembly. These polymers are also widely used in radiator grilles, fascia brackets, lawn & garden equipment, and construction components.
"We were honored to be able to participate in the development of this unique fog lamp bezel with an aero curtain on such an iconic American sports car," said Tom Cousins, Sales Director - Automotive, Styrolution. "There is no stronger endorsement of the effectiveness of this design, material, and process combination than the fact that Ford is now translating it to other vehicle platforms."