Prototyping Materials and Processes for Vehicle Lightweighting – Material selection is key factor to make vehicles lighter. Here’s a quick glance at the best options which also lend themselves to quick-turn, completely functional prototypes.
Everybody within the auto industry is researching ways to shed some weight. Well, make that many pounds. You can find myriad material options to make it work. Now you ask ,, how will you get the best choices and acquire them into test quickly? The Automotive Prototype available today really are a real boon for the early stages of the product development process. But there’s still a requirement for physical, functional prototypes to prove out design assumptions. That needs to be fast too.
Protolabs concentrates on rapid prototyping for exactly this requirement. Most of the time, you are able to upload a solid model to its website and literally get a part back the very next day. They don’t just know materials; they also know manufacturing processes including 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding. Below are great tips from Protolabs on how to be able to lighter parts faster.
Reducing Component Weight for Automotive Applications – Magnesium Rather than Steel
One important thing to keep in mind before starting any lightweighting project would be to take small bites. Shaving ounces and even fractions of ounces out of each component will wind up creating a significantly lighter car. The key is to develop products that fulfill cost and duty requirements but use alternate materials and clever designs to lessen weight. Fortunately for designers and engineers, today’s variety of prototyping materials and advanced manufacturing technologies are coming up with new opportunities for iterative, even parallel-path design testing.
Magnesium is a good place to begin. Using a density of 106 lb. per cubic foot, magnesium is the lightest of all structural metals, and it has the best strength-to-weight ratio too. It has a proven track record within the automotive, aerospace, medical and electronics industries, and is also used in anything from fuel tanks to gearboxes. For instance, BMW started using magnesium for the N52 six-cylinder crankcases and cylinder head covers in 2005.
BMW started using magnesium for the N52 six-cylinder crankcases and cylinder head covers in 2005. Magnesium is routinely milled into a variety of prototype parts. Compared to aluminum, the lightweighting runner-up, it really is higher priced per pound, but that cost delta is offset somewhat by magnesium’s 33-percent lighter weight and comparable strength. It’s also easily machined, however some care should be delivered to control fine chips and metal particles, since these may be flammable in oxygen-rich environments.
The AZ31 and AZ91 grades of magnesium alloy used at Protolabs are even weldable with melting points of roughly 900° F (482°C). Unless you’re designing a lightweight furnace liner, magnesium is a superb option for a number of components.
Plastic Instead of Metal – Magnesium and aluminum are excellent options to steel for Automotive Molding, but thermoplastic and thermoset materials are robust possibilities as well. An extensive selection ion of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers along with liquid silicone rubber (LSR) could also be used to switch metal parts, thus reducing product cost and weight while improving durability. The best alternatives include: Polypropylene is actually a flexible, fatigue resistant family of thermoplastics commonly used in automotive interiors, battery cases, boat hulls, prosthetics along with other products requiring toughness and light-weight weight. They have superior strength-to-weight ratios and good impact resistance even at cold temperatures.
Polyethylene has mechanical properties comparable to polypropylene but is much more rigid and gives greater effectiveness against warping. Because of its affordable and relatively high strength, polyethylene is well designed for the inner of the glove box, perhaps, or a cold air intake. ABS is another thermoplastic with exceptional impact resistance and toughness. It is a lightweight alternative to metal used in dashboard trim, electronics enclosures, hubcap covers as well as other such automotive applications. Injection-molded ABS is also available in either flame-retardant or anti-static grades in a rainbow of colours. Chrome-plated ABS is utilized on hubcaps, grills and fender flares.
An extensive selection of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers in addition to liquid silicone rubber (LSR) can also be used to switch metal parts. Polycarbonate is a transparent material often used for thermoformed parts where glass is unsuitable, due to weight or breakage concerns. It offers 250 times the impact resistance but only half the weight of regular glass, which is why “bulletproof glass” and aircraft windows are in reality manufactured from polycarbonate or its slightly more flexible cousin, acrylic. Protolabs 3D prints this product with 10-percent glass-filled polycarbonate for functional prototypes. Another grade can be used high-temp applications. Similar grades of polycarbonate are for sale to machining or injection molding.
Nylon is one of the strongest plastics offered by Protolabs and is a wonderful candidate for sprockets, fan blades, gears, latches, manifolds and bearing surfaces. It’s extremely light, with 15-percent the weight of steel and 40-percent of aluminum. Protolabs offers selective laser sintering (SLS) of various engineering-grade nylons, which can be used functional testing of prototypes prior to machining or injection molding. One of these is Nylon 11, a material that can be useful for living hinge designs as used in hose and wire clips, washer fluid caps, along with other automobile components.
Acetal, more commonly known by its trade name Delrin, is really a regular go-to material for machined prototypes. It is strong and stiff and regularly called upon to change precision metal parts in a variety of industrial and consumer products. Electrical and fuel system components, power transmission parts including gears, bushings, and bearings, along with other high-performance parts may be milled or injection molded from different grades of acetal copolymer or homopolymers stocked at Protolabs.
Liquid silicone rubber (LSR), is a versatile material for many molding applications. Upon curing, LSR becomes strong yet flexible, and it is suitable for gaskets, lenses, connectors, and other parts which require excellent thermal, chemical and electrical resistance. Wiring harnesses, panel buttons, spark plug boots-these are generally but of few of the places LSR are available in modern vehicles.
Liquid silicone rubber is strong but flexible. A whole new material at Protolabs worthy of mention is CoolPoly, an exclusive polymer moldable in hardness levels which range from Shore A 40 (soft as an eraser) to Shore D 80 (hard like a bowling ball). It had been created as a replacement for heatsinks, lighting shrouds and other thermally conductive parts normally made from aluminum.
Sorting through all of the different possibilities is probably the biggest challenges with China Plastic Molding. That’s because improving product design inside the automotive world isn’t a matter of grabbing whatever material weighs minimal and replacing the legacy steel or iron used previously. For instance, plastic parts which will eventually be mass-produced via injection molding should be made with the correct draft angles and wall thicknesses up front. Ejector pins must be considered, as should areas hbvpyy undercuts, tight internal radii, and a number of other details that can make or break your lightweight part.
In addition to design, rapid prototyping is additionally accelerating test tracks as well as on-road evaluations. Engineers can produce multiple versions of the identical part, then use a skilled auto technician with auto technician training replace the various components on the production model for each test run. This flexibility may even allow engineers to evaluate elements like driver comfort, including, for instance, having production vehicles equipped with different variations of interior parts.
Due to simulation environments and rapid prototyping, the appearance of components just like the cooling systems are locked in much earlier within the overall process. This implies fewer prototypes from the full vehicle are essential, allowing vehicles to visit from concept to production far more quickly and smoothly. There is also a better correlation of air-flow measurements between the test part and the full vehicles, meaning fewer expensive changes are required late during this process.