OCT 2018


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OCTOBER 2018 64 CompositesWorld INSIDE MANUFACTURING » A team in France led by Webasto SC in Les Châtelliers-Chate- aumur has developed a novel fixed-glass, roller-blind sunroof module that, for the first time, uses thermoplastic composite guide rails to replace conventional aluminum rails. First commercialized on several multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) produced by Groupe Renault (Boulogne-Billancourt), the change saves weight, cost and tooling, eliminates hardware and multiple processing steps, simplifies assembly-line installation, reduces operating noise and frees up 13 mm of additional headroom between vehicle occu- pants and the sunroof 's glass panel. Common in Europe but uncommon in North America, roller- blind sunroof modules are typically used to cover fixed-glass roof systems — often large panoramic roofs that span nearly the entire width and length of the vehicle's roofline. When deployed, they have much the same function as rigid sunshades do on North American vehicles, blocking excess sunlight and damping noise from rain and wind. ey are comprised of a thin but light- blocking fabric that unrolls and deploys along a motorized track, and then is rolled up again around a spindle that is housed under the headliner at the rear of the roof on the vehicle interior. Conventional sunroof assembly e auto industry has historically used aluminum rails to connect a sunroof 's roller blind module to the body-in-white (BIW) roof structure, especially in the case of large and transparent, fixed- glass sunroof systems, which typically span nearly the entire length and width of the car's roof. ese guide rails, mounted along the driver and passenger sides of the roof, do double-duty on roller-blind sunroof systems because they form the sliding surface along which the motorized fabric roller blind travels as the shade is rolled up to permit more light into the vehicle interior, or as it is deployed to reduce that light. Unlike the rigid sunshades common in North America, when retracted the roller- blind sunshades take up little space under headliners where they cannot be seen by vehicle occupants, yet still provide the same First use of thermoplastic composite guide rails to replace aluminum brings many benefits to fixed-glass, roller-blind sunroof modules. Thermoplastic composites: Scenic view Change to composite guide rails simplifies production A team in France has developed a novel fixed-glass, roller-blind sunroof module that uses thermoplastic composite guide rails for the first time to replace conventional aluminum rails. Already in production for two years on the Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic multi-purpose vehicles, this change in rail material saved weight, cost and tooling, eliminated hardware and multiple processing steps, simplified assembly line installation, reduced operating noise, and also freed up 13 mm of headroom between vehicle occupants and the glass panel. Source | Renault SAS & Patrick CurtetProdigious By Peggy Malnati / Contributing Writer

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