Overmolding tech for automotive electronics saves space - and money

October 05, 2020 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Overmolding tech for automotive electronics saves space - and money
Vitesco Technologies, Continental's powertrain arm, has introduced a new process for embedding electronic circuits in the vehicle environment. This overmolding technology is characterised by around 45% less weight, greater robustness and significantly fewer production steps compared to conventional control units. The result: significant cost advantages.

In the classic design of an ECU, the electronic components and the PCB are located within a housing. With an overmolding control unit, in contrast, the electronic components, which are also arranged on a printed circuit board as usual, are completely embedded in plastic. New, high-precision injection moulding processes as well as new, particularly resistant plastics enable this type of control unit, which Vitesco Technologies has implemented for the first time in automotive series production worldwide.

Vitesco promises that the overmolding production process offers several advantages at once: First of all, the extreme robustness of the components, because the sensitive high-tech components are completely enclosed in plastic, they can easily withstand strong vibrations. Secondly, an overmolded component is not only lighter than a comparable control unit in a conventional housing, but also significantly flatter. With a thickness of only seven millimetres, the control unit developed by Vitesco for a train gearbox is currently the flattest control electronics on the market. By comparison, the control unit used up to now was 1.5 centimetres thick. The difference plays a decisive role, because the control unit is screwed directly into the gearbox, where space is at a premium - every millimetre is at stake. A further advantage is that an overmolded component can be produced with considerably fewer manufacturing steps than a housing-based control unit. The new technology thus reduces complexity and is also more cost-effective.

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