Automotive Engineering

Motorized vehicles are manufactured in series production with a high degree of automation. With the variety of technical equipment, the numerous design variants and the high utility value for the customers, they are hardly surpassed by other technical products.

A large number of industries and technologies are involved in the manufacture of motorized vehicles: machine tool manufacturing, glass industry, plastics industry, ceramic and chemical industry, electrical engineering and electronics industries, textile industry, surface finishing and environmental engineering, just to name a few examples.

In a motorized vehicle, the following main component assemblies can be defined:

  • Engine
  • Power transmission / drive train
  • Chassis
  • Car body
  • Vehicle electrics / electronics

Every component assembly has specific technical requirements for the materials used. The selection of certain materials is guided by the goal to maximize energy and cost efficiency combined with acceptable reliability.

As in the majority of applications in engineering, in motorized vehicles too, components made of high-quality technical ceramics are used to reliably meet requirements that materials on metal or plastic basis are hardly able to fulfil.

Often, the mainly dense-sintered ceramic materials make economic realization of requirements possible in first place. The spark plug with its electrical insulator made of Al2O3 ceramic is a historical example or the l-sensor with doped ZrO2 as an electric conductor provides an example from more recent years.

Application in motorized vehicles demands from components made of technical ceramics high reliability and cost efficiency in long-term operation. The application-specific requirements are therefore focussed on the following properties:

  • Mechanical strength
  • Density
  • Achievable geometric precision and edge stability
  • Tribological properties, e.g. coefficient of friction and abrasive behaviour even in emergency conditions
  • Dimensional stability with changing thermal and mechanical loads
  • Resistance to high temperatures and sudden temperature changes
  • Insulating capacity and thermal conductivity
  • Chemical corrosion resistance
  • Electrical insulation and electrical conductivity
  • Dielectric properties
  • Magnetic properties
  • Suitability for thin and thick film technologies
  • Possibility to produce force-fit, form-fit and adhesively bonded ceramic-ceramic and ceramic-metal joints

Today, the manufacturers of motor vehicles use monolithic ceramic materials, composites, piezoceramics and magnetoceramics on oxide and non-oxide basis. The components made of these materials are often optimized for the specific application. As a result, they achieve high reliability and long-term durability in everyday operation.

In motor vehicles too, the typical characteristic of the applications of ceramic materials is their existence in positions within component assemblies that are generally not visually accessible. One exception in this connection is the brake disk made of a non-oxide ceramic fibre composite, the use of which brings key technical benefits compared with conventional brake disks, like, for example, high wear resistance and consequently an unusually long service lifetime in operating conditions.