TI Automotive Brings New Plastic Fuel Tank Advanced Process Technology (TAPT) Into Volume Production
New Tank Advanced Process Technology (TAPT) expands upon award-winning Ship-in-a-Bottle (SIB) process to provide flexibility in integrating fuel components within fuel tank assembly
- Highly-adaptable process enables the production of different types of tanks on current blow molding machines from a single designed tooling set
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class is first application; other customer development programs in process for multiple powertrains, including hybrid-electric vehicles
AUBURN HILLS, MI--Nov. 5, 2013: TI Automotive, a leading global supplier of fluid storage, carrying and delivery technology, presented today at the 'tank.tech' Conference in Munich, Germany their new, adaptable plastic fuel tank advanced process technology (TAPT) and that the technology has begun production volume for the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The technology was chosen on this first application to solve integration of components in a traditional powertrain with a complex saddle tank shape.
TAPT is a flexible manufacturing process that makes it possible to produce multiple types of fuel tanks for all types of powertrains – diesel, gasoline, flex-fuel, Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (PZEV) and hybrid – from a single design blow tooling set. Currently, OEMs traditionally source the different vehicle tanks by engine type or regional differences. TAPT allows for global standardization of complete vehicle platforms.
The new production process expands on TI Automotive's 2009 Automotive News PACE Award-winning Ship-in-a-Bottle (SIB) fuel tank, in which a pre-loaded carrier assembly was inserted into the plastic parison during blow molding. While SIB enabled production of the world's first plastic PZEV saddle fuel tank, placement of fuel system components was limited on some applications due to the 10-inch (25.5 cm) plastic parison opening.
During TAPT, a pre-formed blow-molded parison is separated into two halves while a robot inserts the fuel system components into designated areas of the tank assembly – without size or location limitations. The entire process takes less than one minute and uses existing blow molding equipment with the key added enabler of gripper features in the mold tooling design.
"Emissions reduction and vehicle packaging complexity have made it necessary to change how the industry looks at fuel tank production," said Albert Boecker, global advanced technology director, Fuel Tank Systems Division, TI Automotive. "With TAPT, we have the flexibility needed to optimize component placement, reduce weight, reduce fuel slosh noise or increase stiffness – depending on application – and establish worldwide standards to support global vehicle platforms."
At the 'tank.tech' conference, TI Automotive engineers presented the next TAPT development, which now makes it possible to build a stiff pressurized fuel tank for hybrid vehicle applications through a unique double-molding process. During production, slosh and/or stiffening structures are inserted into the tank, which enable it to retain shape and pressure under the operating conditions of the hybrid-electric vehicle battery pack.
Programs are currently under development for additional vehicle platforms in Europe, North America and Asia. TI Automotive has been recognized with more than 20 global patents for the technology key enabling features and on Oct. 14, 2013, was named a finalist for the 2014 Automotive News PACE Award for manufacturing process innovation.