New tech center brings added capability

  • 20-Jan-2009 04:06 EST
Houkit Sam, Engineering ManagerCore Brake Development, does an initial setup for conducting a brake noise evaluation inside a Link 3900 Series Dynamometer at Wolverine's technical center in Dearborn, MI.

A supplier of brake noise insulators and other vehicle damping solutions made a sound-inspired move with the recent relocation of its testing operations.

"A full-vehicle hemi-anechoic chamber is new to Wolverine's testing capability. Prior to having this testing capability at our new technical center in Dearborn, MI, full-vehicle testing relied on customers' on-site facilities and third-party contract services," said Christopher Griffen, Director of Technology for Wolverine Advanced Materials.

Wolverine began its product development initiatives in 2005 as an outgrowth of its brake insulator and gasket sealing business. "Several key vehicle subsystem application areas—base powertrain, exhaust, body structure, interior, and chassis—were used as 'first technical proofs' of the material innovations. From this initial engineering R&D, further product refinement, initial program awards, as well as customer development, validation, and standards requirements, drove the need to incorporate an acoustic environment capability," explained Griffen.

The hemi-anechoic chamber is essentially the company's "in-house proving ground" for verifying the performance level of NVH solutions—providing a highly efficient and flexible way to quantify improvements in exterior and interior powertrain noise, conduct structural dynamic vibration control optimization, achieve preferred sound quality characteristics, and meet regulatory mandates, according to Griffen.

With more than 400 material brake insulator grades and 120-plus specific final brake insulator products in its portfolio, Wolverine's technical specialists spend considerable time doing testing and validation as part of the overall product development process. "Our target rollout is 10 new product base material alternatives annually. One of the products currently under development is an eco-friendly material that meets current and future global environmental mandates," said Griffen.

Having an assortment of in-house testing equipment can be viewed as an advantage. "The depth of in-house experimental capability offers benefit to the customer and the supplier in development time and cost," said Griffen, adding, "The very last thing a new customer wants to hear is that they will be responsible for doing development and validation tests."

The testing arsenal at Wolverine's Dearborn technical center incorporates various computational modeling and analysis tools, including hybrid prediction and synthesis, and 2-D and 3-D thermal/mechanical sealing systems for non-linear analysis. Other simulation tools and a powertrain hemi-anechoic dynamometer likely will be added to the technical center's in-house capabilities in the next three years.

Wolverine Advanced Materials, an EaglePicher company, produces specialty materials used in gaskets for automotive and industrial applications as well as automotive brake noise insulators and NVH damping solutions for automotive and consumer electronics applications. The 33,000-ft² (3066-m²) Dearborn facility serves as Wolverine's technical center and the headquarters for EaglePicher Corp. The company, which relocated from Inkster, MI, plans to expand the Dearborn facility by an additional 10,000 ft² (929 m²) in the next three years.

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