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Continental Structural Plastics

Composites Help Make Ford Vehicles Quieter

A composite dual-wall-dash engine shroud from Continental Structural Plastics is reported to significantly reduce noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) in the cabin of the 2020 Ford Explorer. (Photo: Business Wire)

Continental Structural Plastics is supplying Ford Motor Company with an advanced composite engine shroud that reduces cabin NVH on the 2020 Explorer.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich.–Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a manufacturer of highly-engineered, composite vehicle components, is supplying Ford Motor Company with what is said to be the industry’s first composite, dual-wall-dash engine shroud for use in the 2020 Ford Explorer. The advanced composite shroud incorporates sheet molded compound (SMC) and significantly reduces the powertrain noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) occurring in the vehicle cabin, CSP said in a press release.

Developed in collaboration with Ford using the tools in Ford’s new NVH lab, the composite engine shroud creates an air gap between the engine compartment and the steel front bulkhead. It does so by wrapping around the back of the engine and meeting the strut towers on each side of the engine bay.

The composite dual-wall dash is reported to offer multiple benefits over the all-steel components used in competitors’ luxury SUV models, CSP said. Acoustically, the composite provides an improved sound barrier over competitive materials. The shroud also achieves a mass reduction: At just 12 pounds, the 4-piece assembly is lighter than a similar shroud stamped from steel. And because it is made from composites, it offers the moldability and design flexibility needed to support a complex, under- hood packaging environment.

In addition to reducing engine noise, the composite dual-wall dash improves acoustics by dissipating sound before it reaches the primary dash panel. It is also said to provide superior thermal protection for electrical components and to accommodate engine assembly and serviceability concerns.

“Composites are a great choice for a number of under-the-hood applications because of these properties and the design flexibility they provide,” said Bryan Ludwig, business development director at CSP, in a statement. “Because our glass fiber composite is a thermoset, it actually offers better thermal properties than a metal, and can be molded thin enough to fit in the tight spaces found in the engine compartment.”

The dual-wall dash is manufactured at CSP’s 190,000-square-foot facility in Conneaut, Ohio. The facility employs 260 people and makes structural composite parts for automotive and commercial customers.

“We are continually looking for ways to help our customers meet design and engineering challenges by using our composite materials,” said Steve Rooney, CEO of CSP, in a statement. “Because of the superior dampening qualities offered by a composite, Ford was able to achieve a level of cabin quietness that will enhance the driving experience for Explorer and Aviator owners.”

Continental Structural Plastics (, a Teijin Group company, is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The company provides full-service engineering support and holds multiple patents covering materials development and manufacturing processes.

This technical information has been contributed by
Continental Structural Plastics

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