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    • Plastic turbos coming soon from BMW? Mann+Hummel demonstrates high grade thermoplastic N54 turbocharger housing

      This is a rather interesting development in the turbocharger market. Mann+Hummel worked with BMW over the past four years to develop a functioning prototype using an N54 turbocharger as the basis for a high grade thermoplastic turbocharger housing. The benefits of high grade plastics in cars are numerous but they are usually applied to body and chassis components and not actually to engine components where strength is at a premium.


      Mann+Hummel claims these plastic housings reduce weight and help with emissions. BimmerBoost is not sure what the emissions benefit to the plastic housing actually is. The main difference is seemingly in the weight loss which then reduces the energy requirements to move the car. It's obvious why BMW would want this technology researched as the plastic material would help save weight and also likely costs as a plastic turbo will be cheaper than a high grade metal unit.

      With BMW going for efficiency above all else we may start seeing plastic turbos at least in the economy models. It is doubtful a plastic housing would hold up to the rigors of a turbo M motor and then questions are raised as to how the material would fare under high heat conditions in a racetrack setting.

      Head of development at Mann+Hummel Dr. Huurdeman had this to say, "The practices we have implemented successfully over the years for many plastic engine components were much harder to implement when replacing aluminium with thermoplastic PPS (polyphenylene sulphide) for turbocharger compressor housings. For example, the dynamic pressure loads at high compressor outlet temperatures entail very particular construction and material requirements."

      If the plastic housing is able to deliver the durability and reliability BMW desires for a certain power level it will be no surprise to see it implemented. Plastic turbos coming soon? Sure looks like it.

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      This article was originally published in forum thread: Plastic turbos coming soon from BMW? Mann+Hummel demonstrates high grade thermoplastic N54 turbocharger housing started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 110 Comments
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by uniter Click here to enlarge
        Metals like transferring heat, polymers don't.

        If the hot side doesn't transfer as much heat then the IATs won't rise as much.

        As we've seen with the polymer made intake manifold these parts seem to be able to take much more boost than we thought they would without popping.

        So IATs would be lower, lower price point, identical strength. This is a specially formulated polymer that was engineered to withstand continuous high engine bay temperatures. The compressor's housing is engineered to withstand the pressures that the compressor operates at. Not the same stuff that they use in fisher-price toys.

        I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss this is a 'step backward' simply because you don't have the technical sheet on the compressor Click here to enlarge

        Assumptions aside, given a technical sheet you could stack them up side by side.
        You'd need to know:
        Max PSI supported by the compressor side.
        Max temp supported by the polymer.

        Other than that we're really speculating and navel gazing Click here to enlarge
        Why do we tend to see high performance intake manifolds be metal and not plastic then?
      1. benzy89's Avatar
        benzy89 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Why do we tend to see high performance intake manifolds be metal and not plastic then?
        Prob easier to mass produce cast metal intake manifolds vs. plastic injected models. You also don't have to deal with all the environmentalists (and environmental laws) that come with plastics
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
        Prob easier to mass produce cast metal intake manifolds vs. plastic injected models. You also don't have to deal with all the environmentalists (and environmental laws) that come with plastics
        I thought it was because plastic tended to pop and not be as strong under high boost?
      1. Wedge1967's Avatar
        Wedge1967 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sparky68 Click here to enlarge
        Shiv making a single? Click here to enlarge
        I take it you know Shiv? You probably wouldn't be so quick to make fun of a ST after taking a ride in one. The N54 engine is an amazing power plant with a big turbo. Along with its monster torque, it just keeps on giving HP all the way to red line. I think we'll all be surprised to see what they bring to the table this next Shift S3ctor. Considering we now know the DMF causes issues at high HP, we have the Alpina trans flash, and we have a built trans going into an AT car this week. Can't wait to see how that comes together.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Wedge1967 Click here to enlarge
        Along with its monster torque, it just keeps on giving HP all the way to red line. I think we'll all be surprised to see what they bring to the table this next Shift S3ctor.
        Uh huh
      1. Mat Morkin's Avatar
        Mat Morkin -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
        Prob easier to mass produce cast metal intake manifolds vs. plastic injected models. You also don't have to deal with all the environmentalists (and environmental laws) that come with plastics
        The best material in the world at transferring heat is gold, then iron btw...that was an overall conversation point...not pointed at you. Injection molding is expensive to start, but depending on the type of plastic it could take a part from $100 to cast (not machine or finish) to $10, so it depends on numbers.

        However, foundries probably pollute more than a injection mold shop because the air set sand contains polyurethane and when it gets wet it seeps into the ground, that's bad news. Lost Wax and Foam are pretty clean though. That is why it is rare that a new foundry opens up, most of them that I know of are so old they are grandfathered in to decades old environmental laws.Click here to enlarge-That's an old foundry, get it?
      1. vasillalov's Avatar
        vasillalov -
        All I have to say is: 3D printing! Think of the possibilities...

        EDIT: You can rapidly design any kind of housing, flange, manifold, connector, provide that the material is up to the task.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by vasillalov Click here to enlarge
        All I have to say is: 3D printing! Think of the possibilities...

        EDIT: You can rapidly design any kind of housing, flange, manifold, connector, provide that the material is up to the task.
        I'd print a car with metal turbos.
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        They have much better thermal insulation (i.e. heatsoak) - just like a plastic manifold. That's where the emissions come in - cooler incoming air/denser charge.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by inlineS54B32 Click here to enlarge
        They have much better thermal insulation (i.e. heatsoak) - just like a plastic manifold. That's where the emissions come in - cooler incoming air/denser charge.
        They should have mentioned that in their press release. They just mentioned the weight.
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        It's made out of this stuff: ctgasket.com/SpecSheets/Plastics/CTGPPS-Ryton.pdf
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        They should mentioned that in their press release. They just mentioned the weight.
        I agree - and just to be clear, that was just my guess... I am thinking it's right though - as I doubt cost is a factor, and doubt weight is either. I guess both of those costs do go down however, but thinking it's more for the IATs.
      1. Q4P's Avatar
        Q4P -
        ...could this be an M3/M4 sign? 4 years of development you say with an N54 housing?
      1. V8Bait's Avatar
        V8Bait -
        They aren't using this for the turbine side just the compressor side, sounds good to me.
      1. benzy89's Avatar
        benzy89 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Q4P Click here to enlarge
        ...could this be an M3/M4 sign? 4 years of development you say with an N54 housing?
        As long as they don't recycle the N54 WG-setup, it's fine by me
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Q4P Click here to enlarge
        ...could this be an M3/M4 sign? 4 years of development you say with an N54 housing?
        They used the N54 housing because that is what BMW had 4 years ago.
      1. bmw335iguy's Avatar
        bmw335iguy -
        I like how the plastic housing is ribbed for my pleasure. Click here to enlarge
      1. Eric335's Avatar
        Eric335 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by E90Company Click here to enlarge
        The end is near
        Yup. Soon enough our tiny stock turbos will seem awesome simply because they dont burst past 10 PSI...
      1. whoosh's Avatar
        whoosh -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by vasillalov Click here to enlarge
        All I have to say is: 3D printing! Think of the possibilities...
        I had this thought too, especially after all the chatter about 3D printed guns earlier today. But I figured people would print water pumps and junk; never thought about cold side housing on a turbo. This is going to get really interesting...
      1. benzy89's Avatar
        benzy89 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by vasillalov Click here to enlarge
        All I have to say is: 3D printing! Think of the possibilities...

        EDIT: You can rapidly design any kind of housing, flange, manifold, connector, provide that the material is up to the task.
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by whoosh Click here to enlarge
        I had this thought too, especially after all the chatter about 3D printed guns earlier today. But I figured people would print water pumps and junk; never thought about cold side housing on a turbo. This is going to get really interesting...
        Doubtful that a home 3D printer is going to produce a mold that is going to be structurally sound to be used on a car. Compared to a gun (high force), there are a lot more rough conditions a turbo would have to endure on a car (weather, engine bay heat, turbo boost pressure, etc etc)