Plastic manifold to feature on Ford's latest V6 engine

Ford has swapped out brazed metal manifold components in two of its new V6 engines with a lightweight plastic part made from DuPont's Zytel HTN PPA resin.

The crossover coolant component, a hollow port that allows engine coolant to bypass the manifold as it circulates through the engine, was created in collaboration with US engineering firm Illinois Tool Works (ITW). Ford says it cuts 1lb in weight and saves $1 in cost per engine. While DuPont Zytel HTN PPA is often used in engine cooling components because it can withstand the long term exposure to heat and long life coolant, the ITW team found that intense pressure of the overmoulding process needed to integrate the component into the manifold system was damaging the hollow component. The company therefore approached the challenge from several perspectives related to design, materials and processing. Over several weeks its engineers modified the material and the design using advanced computer models to inform the prototype. ITW also invested in cavity-pressure sensing technology to understand pressures inside the moulding cavity. This data was then used to pinpoint where design changes could add structure and to control the process so the prototype could scale into production quickly. "Getting accurate data about pressures and conditions inside the moulding cavity significantly improved our ability to evaluate the material, iterate more efficiently on design and shorten the development cycle," said Tyler Terrell, ITW project manager. "This was a really tough challenge and we used every technology we could to get this part into production." The new integrated coolant crossover debuts in Ford's 3.5 and 3.7L V6 engines, which power the company's Taurus, Flex, Edge and Explorer models. In addition to significant weight savings, Ford says the running change eliminates several steps in the value chain associated with processing and machining powder-coated metal.