Auburn Hills’ Continental Structural Plastics Supplies Composite Engine Shroud for 2020 Ford Explorer

Continental Structural Plastics'
Continental Structural Plastics is supplying Ford with dual-wall-dash engine shrouds to reduce noise. Photo courtesy of Continental Structural Plastics

Continental Structural Plastics, an Auburn Hills-based global company specializing in highly engineered composite vehicle components, is supplying the industry’s first composite, dual-wall-dash engine shroud for Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co.

The sheet molded compound advanced composite shroud reduces powertrain noise, vibration, and harshness in the vehicle cabin. The shrouds are for the 2020 Ford Explorer.

“We are continually looking for ways to help our customers meet design and engineering challenges by using our composite materials,” says Steve Rooney, CEO of Continental. “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.”

Developed in collaboration with Ford, the engine shroud creates an air gap between the engine compartment and the steel front bulkhead 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 offers an improved sound barrier over competitive materials and, at 12 pounds, reduces weight compared to shrouds made from stamped steel. Because it is made from composites, the shroud offers the moldability and design flexibility needed to support a complex, under-hood packaging environment.

The dual-wall dash also improves acoustics by dissipating sound before it reaches the primary dash panel, provides thermal protection for electrical components, and accommodates 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,” explaines Bryan Ludwig, business development director at CSP. “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 being manufactured at the Continental facility in Conneaut, Ohio. The 190,000-square-foot facility employs 260 people and is celebrating 50 years in operation this year. It makes structural composite parts for automotive and commercial customers.

Continental provides technologies in lightweight composite solutions for the automotive, heavy truck, HVAC, and construction industries for 50 years.