Experts on Tour - Robert Bauerle

Abstract: Saving Weight for 30 Years - Liteflex Composite Springs

The presentation will review the history of the development of composite springs through commercial implementation, present day applications, and the driving forces for implementation of this weight savings technology into future suspensions.

The advantages of composites are lighter weight, better durability, improved ride and handling, non-corrosive and they never sag over time. The weight savings when compared to steel leaf springs can be as high as 81% as it was for the 1981 Corvette where a single Liteflex composite leaf replaced a ten-leaf steel spring. Durability will normally exceed the life of the vehicle because springs are designed to perform at the maximum suspension travel well in excess of expected vehicle life. Improved ride is achieved by the elimination of inter-leaf friction and the use of rubber tip pads on transverse designs. Springs are designed to have a softer rate when both wheels deflect equally and a stiffer rate in roll to provide improved handling. The Liteflex proprietary resin system provides a natural resistance to moisture and corrosion and the ability of the springs to never sag. Springs that were manufactured in 1981 have been on vehicles for over 30 years and still provide the same trim and spring rate as at the time of installation.

Since 1981, 20 million springs have been supplied to the automotive industry. Growth was quick and reached 1.5 million annually by the late eighties. Reduced pressure on weight savings in the nineties resulted in composite springs not being a part of the redesigned vehicle suspensions and annual volumes fell below a quarter million. With higher fuel prices and increased government regulations on fuel economy, there is a renewed interest in designing lighter-weight suspensions with the use of composite springs.

Robert Bauerle bio:

  • University of Dayton - 1970 BS Chemical Engineering
  • University of Dayton - 1980 MS Engineering Management
  • 1970-1973 Dupont, process engineering
  • 1973-2001 GM/Delphi, material research and development
  • 2001-2012 Liteflex LLC, Sales Manager

Bob developed the Liteflex spring materials and process in 1977 that went into production on the 1981 Corvette rear transverse application. He has spent the last 35 years in composite research, development and sales for composite springs and other automotive applications.