Auburn Hills, Michigan – A sheet-molded compound (SMC) engine shroud on the 2020 Ford Explorer SUV should cut engine noise and improve the vehicle’s noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) performance. Officials with supplier Continental Structure Plastics (CSP) say the part shows the potential for plastics in heat-sensitive locations near vehicle engines. 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 by wrapping around the back of the engine and meeting the strut towers on each side of the engine bay. Similar all-steel components are common on luxury SUVs where noise performance is more important, and weight savings is less critical. Using the composite kept the Ford shroud to 12 lb, significantly less weight than the steel shrouds used for luxury SUVs. Acoustically, the composite improves the sound barrier, and because it is made from composites, it offers the moldability and design flexibility needed to support a complex, under- hood packaging environment. “Composites are a great choice for a number of under-the-hood applications,” said Bryan ...