Thermoset resins continue to play an important role in metal replacement and lightweighting in motor vehicles. And Japanese firm Sumitomo Bakelite continues to push the application envelope through the development of new phenolic resin matrix-based materials targeting the auto sector.

One such development turns to the ancient Japanese art of wet papermaking in a wet-laid nonwoven forming technology that interfaces and aramid or carbon fiber “entangled fiber network” with a phenolic resin molding compound. Sumitomo Bakelite envisages application in gears, where the technology has shown to be capable of reducing noise by 10 dB at a torque of 10 Nm and 1000 rpm (the counter material was an S45C steel gear). Further, gear compounds are typically 50–60% lighter than aluminum die-cast alloy gears. Sumitomo Bakelite has also developed a conductive grade for electromagnetic shielding applications.

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