Meritor has developed a larger trailer axle said to be stronger but lighter than its current 5-inch-diameter tube-type product. Called MTec6, the axle is 6 inches in diameter, but careful design, including swadged spindles, increases stiffness by 21% and cuts out 40 pounds of material.

In addition to weight savings, the new design offers better torsional benefits and less bending at the wheel end, resulting in less tire wear.

“We applied Meritor’s advanced product development and manufacturing technologies, combined with a century of experience building axles, to develop the market’s lightest trailer axle,” said Martha Remski, Meritor’s general manager for trailer products. “The MTec6 will save fuel, expand payload capacity and increase tire life.”

Separate spindles are commonly friction-welded onto the ends of trailer axles, but swadging, or twisting, a heated tube forms spindles from the same piece of material. Spindles are the same shape and take the same axle-end equipment.  

The product’s greater stiffness reduces axle deflection to maintain neutral camber better than smaller-diameter axles, which helps reduce tire wear. Reduced weight comes from a thinner wall, she said.

The MTec6 is aimed at van and refrigerated trailer applications, and will eventually become the standard axle with steel-spring suspensions and later for air-ride suspensions. Meanwhile, it will be optional with drum or disc brakes starting about April, Remski said.