Material. Design. Function. Together, these three simple elements set ATRO apart from all other truck, trailer, bus, and military vehicle polyurethane component parts manufacturers. [read more]
How do we at ATRO use these three basic concepts to make a difference in your vehicles? Let’s take a look.
Material: Polyurethane is the Best of the Best
If you could take the best properties of plastic and the best properties of rubber, you’d get polyurethane.
Polyurethane is durable stuff; it’s resistant to the common chemicals your fleet interacts with every day. Polyurethane truck parts do not react with diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, oil, acids, cleaning solvents, cement, road salt, or animal fat. Even the toughest chemical solutions, like those used to dissolve lime off redi-mix trucks or kill bacteria in garbage trucks, don’t react with ATRO polyurethane parts.
Compare this resistance to another common part material – rubber – which absorbs chemicals. Absorption can make rubber soft like jelly; you may have seen this if you have ever changed out a motor mount that sat in oil too long. With cleaning solvents, rubber can dry out and harden. Regardless of the reaction, the rubber is weakened, and the parts can no longer handle the loads they were originally designed to handle.
It’s not just polyurethane’s resistance to chemicals that makes it tough, either. In lab comparisons, ATRO’s polyurethane outperforms rubber in critical properties – tensile strength tear, abrasion resistance, and elongations – by more than two times.
Design: Eliminate Stress by Building with Function in Mind
Most polyurethane manufacturers will beat the Durometer Drum, focusing solely on the hardness of their polyurethane products. Another key part of the ATRO difference is that we design our parts with the function in mind, making durometer (or the hardness rating) significantly less important. Durometer is simply one of many physical properties of material, so don’t be fooled that it’s the only property worth considering. Abrasion resistance, rebound, heat absorption and vibration dampening are just as critical.
The design change that launched ATRO was for suspension bushings with inner and outer sleeves, where we noticed that rubber bushings were failing because the material was breaking away from at least one of the sleeve surfaces. Clearly there was a stress at work that wasn’t accounted for. The solution? We designed the inner piece to rotate freely while bonding to the polyurethane outer sleeve, effectively building the failure into the part and eliminating the shear and torsional stress. The benefit to you is two-fold:
- Simplified Installation. With ATRO polyurethane bushings, you don’t have to mark the bolt holes before removing the old bushings; just press ours in and rotate to where you need them.
- Ride Height. Every vehicle has a ride height set by the equipment manufacturer, and this height does not change. With most suspensions, this means that when you jack up a truck, put supports under the chassis and let the axle and wheels drop so you can work on the suspension, the suspension stretches. When you put in bushings that are bonded to both surfaces, it remains relaxed while it’s jacked up, but the second the vehicle is lowered to the ground and returned to its proper ride height, those bushings wind up and put excessive stress on other components – like brackets, hangers, and torque rod welds – before the truck even leaves the bay! With ATRO, put the rods on in any position, lower the vehicle, and the pin will automatically rotate and zero out at the proper ride height.
We’re known for more than just our rotating suspension bushings, though. ATRO offers a bumper-to-bumper line of polyurethane products, from spring pins, shackle kits, and hood mounts in the front of the truck to equalizers and dock bumpers on the rear of the trailer.
Function: ATRO Engineers Parts with the Job in Mind
At ATRO, we start by understanding how our parts will be used, and then we design and manufacturing the components. This difference separates ATRO, as a truck parts manufacturer that makes components out of polyurethane, from those polyurethane companies who happen to pour truck parts.
The ATRO difference is that we engineer the part based on what it is supposed to do on the vehicle. Does it need to handle an extreme load, like a Hendrickson walking beam bushing? Does it simply need to dampen vibration, like an engine mount?
Does it need to absorb shock, like a Mack load pad should? Even the truck manufacturer got that one wrong! On a Mack camelback suspension, the pads are supposed to kill the road shock right in the pad; not transfer the shock up through the spring. When 8 to 10 lbs. of bouncy rubber – top and bottom – are put at the end of the spring stack, it’s going to “ride like a Mack.” But it shouldn’t, which is why ATRO designs components that use a dead material to absorb the shock and so there is no bounce.
The ATRO Difference: Materials and Design Support Function
That’s the ATRO difference; what we do better than anyone else. We analyze the way our parts will be used to any and all stresses and loads. We look at what stresses the part will come under, and determine how to design the part so that can best handle stresses for the entire system. We choose the best materials for optimum performance, and even develop new materials when needed.
Anybody can take a rubber part and say “We can make this part using any ol’ urethane.” But you need all three of these steps – the right materials, the right design, and an understanding of function – to get a truly superior product; to get the ATRO product.