Thermoforming specialist Belgrade Polymer Products has developed a bespoke lightweight component for an automotive client that helps to increase payloads and fuel efficiency in its delivery vehicles.
Lightweighting is a concept in the automotive industry about building vehicles that are less heavy, improving not only fuel economy and emissions but also vehicle performance and handling.
Doyle’s Commercial Bodybuilding Ltd builds its lightweight Aduro van bodies onto low-floor chassis from manufacturers such as Renault Trucks. Using lighter components increases the payload and fuel efficiency of the 3.5 tonne box vans, which are customised for applications such as commercial use, deliveries and the van rental market.
The Leicester-based company sought Belgrade’s help in devising a new solution to the industry’s ‘standard’ heavier steel wheel boxes that protect the rear wheels in the van’s interior.
Doyle’s Design Engineer Charley Harris explained: “As our vehicles are weight-driven, using lighter materials is important as they can carry more goods, which appeals to our customers. We try to incorporate composite materials where we can and the wheel box is a great example of this approach.”
Belgrade’s in-house design team rose to the challenge, producing a wooden prototype mould from which they produced 40 initial wheel box samples. From this, a water-cooled aluminium production tool was developed to manufacture on-going orders.
Considerably lighter than traditional steel wheel boxes, Belgrade’s version is made from 6mm ABS, will not rust, is recyclable at end-of-life and contributes to the vehicle’s greater fuel efficiency.
Belgrade’s Business Development Manager Dougie Black comments: “We pride ourselves on helping our customers to find solutions to challenging projects and this premium engineered product is a great example of meeting our client’s needs.”
For Belgrade’s pattern-maker Tony Harris, size was the main challenge in developing the component. “Having successfully proved the design with the wooden prototype mould, we moved into full-scale production with the aluminium tool. The client is very happy and there is potential for other wheel box sizes in the future.”
According to Charley, Belgrade has fully met their requirements with a unique tailor-made solution, adding: “As far as I’m aware, no other coachbuilders use plastic wheel boxes. For our purposes, we are more than pleased with them!”
Offering a fast and flexible service, Belgrade Polymer Products manufactures bespoke products to customers’ exact requirements in a diverse range of industries. Materials offered include PP, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE, HIPS and ABS ranging in thickness from 0.5mm to 5mm.
For more information, contact Belgrade Polymer Products on 01933 222205 or visit the website – www.belgrade-polymer.com.