Cooper Standard Automotive has thrived for decades as a supplier of fluid systems and tubing for internal combustion engines and hydraulic components, as well as sealing around doors and windows.
But the company is facing a two-front challenge: Automakers are speeding into battery- powered electric vehicles and wire-controlled technologies that have different fluid needs than in the past. At the same time, these manufacturers also are pushing for smaller carbon footprints from the supply chain.
For Cooper Standard, the way forward is to innovate with new materials that outperform traditional rubber, says Chris Couch, chief technology officer for the Northville, Mich., manufacturer. The company has developed a proprietary elastomer marketed as Fortrex that it says is up to 30 percent lighter than traditional sealing and tubing materials.
Cooper Standard also is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to go a step further by making Fortrex out of recycled plastic materials, including discarded water bottles, laundry detergent containers and bags.