Prototyping Materials and Processes for Vehicle Lightweighting – Material selection is vital factor for making vehicles lighter. Here’s a quick look at the best options that also lend themselves to quick-turn, fully functional prototypes.
Everybody in the auto industry is researching ways to shed some weight. Well, make that a lot of pounds. You can find myriad material options to make it work. Now you ask ,, how could you make the best choices and get them into test quickly? The Automotive Prototype available today really are a real boon to the initial phases in the product development process. But there’s still a need for physical, functional prototypes to prove out design assumptions. Which needs to be fast too.
Protolabs focuses on rapid prototyping for exactly this requirement. Most of the time, you are able to upload an excellent model to its website and literally get yourself a part back the next day. They don’t just know materials; additionally they know manufacturing processes including 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding. Below are great tips from Protolabs regarding how to be able to lighter parts faster.
Reducing Component Weight for Automotive Applications – Magnesium As opposed to Steel
One important thing to consider before embarking on any lightweighting project is always to take small bites. Shaving ounces as well as fractions of ounces out of each component will wind up building a significantly lighter car. The secret is always to develop products which fulfill cost and duty requirements but use alternate materials and clever designs to minimize weight. Fortunately for designers and engineers, today’s array of prototyping materials and advanced manufacturing technologies are creating new opportunities for iterative, even parallel-path design testing.
Magnesium is a good place to start. With a density of 106 lb. per cubic foot, magnesium is the lightest of structural metals, and contains the best strength-to-weight ratio also. It has a proven track record inside the automotive, aerospace, medical and electronics industries, and it is found in from fuel tanks to gearboxes. For example, BMW started using magnesium because of its N52 six-cylinder crankcases and cylinder head covers in 2005.
BMW started using magnesium because of its 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 in weight and comparable strength. It’s also easily machined, however some care must be come to control fine chips and metal particles, since these can 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 an excellent option for a number of components.
Plastic Instead of Metal – Magnesium and aluminum are fantastic alternatives to steel for Automotive Molding, but thermoplastic and thermoset materials are robust possibilities too. A thorough selection ion of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers along with liquid silicone rubber (LSR) may also be used to switch metal parts, thus reducing product cost and weight while improving durability. The best alternatives include: Polypropylene is really a flexible, fatigue resistant group of thermoplastics widely used in automotive interiors, battery cases, boat hulls, prosthetics and other products requiring toughness and light weight. They have superior strength-to-weight ratios and good impact resistance even at cold temperatures.
Polyethylene has mechanical properties much like polypropylene but is a lot more rigid and gives greater effectiveness against warping. Due to its inexpensive and relatively high strength, polyethylene is well designed for the inside of any glove box, perhaps, or even a cold air intake. ABS is an additional thermoplastic with exceptional impact resistance and toughness. It really is a lightweight substitute for metal used in dashboard trim, electronics enclosures, hubcap covers as well as other such automotive applications. Injection-molded ABS is also obtainable in either flame-retardant or anti-static grades in a rainbow of colours. Chrome-plated ABS is used on hubcaps, grills and fender flares.
A thorough collection of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers as well as liquid silicone rubber (LSR) can also be used to change metal parts. Polycarbonate is actually a transparent material often utilized for thermoformed parts where glass is unsuitable, due to weight or breakage concerns. It offers 250 times the impact resistance only half the weight of regular glass, which explains why “bulletproof glass” and aircraft windows are in fact made of polycarbonate or its slightly more flexible cousin, acrylic. Protolabs 3D prints this material with 10-percent glass-filled polycarbonate for functional prototypes. Another grade can be used as high-temp applications. Similar grades of polycarbonate are for sale to machining or injection molding.
Nylon is probably the strongest plastics available at Protolabs and is a superb candidate for sprockets, fan blades, gears, latches, manifolds and bearing surfaces. It’s extremely light, with 15-percent the body weight of steel and 40-percent of aluminum. Protolabs offers selective laser sintering (SLS) of countless engineering-grade nylons, which can be used for functional testing of prototypes just before machining or injection molding. One of these is Nylon 11, a material that works well for living hinge designs as used in hose and wire clips, washer fluid caps, along with other automobile components.
Acetal, commonly known by its trade name Delrin, is actually a regular go-to material for machined prototypes. It is actually strong and stiff and regularly called upon to switch precision metal parts in a range of industrial and consumer products. Electrical and fuel system components, power transmission parts such as 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 a lot of molding applications. Upon curing, LSR becomes strong yet flexible, and is also ideal for gaskets, lenses, connectors, along with other parts that 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 new material at Protolabs worthy of mention is CoolPoly, a unique polymer moldable in hardness levels ranging from Shore A 40 (soft such as an eraser) to Shore D 80 (hard such as a bowling ball). It was created as a substitute for heatsinks, lighting shrouds along with other thermally conductive parts normally manufactured from aluminum.
Sorting through all the various possibilities is one of the biggest challenges with China Plastic Molding. That’s because improving product design in the automotive world isn’t a point of grabbing whatever material weighs minimal and replacing the legacy steel or iron used previously. For example, plastic parts which will eventually be mass-produced via injection molding should be designed with the right draft angles and wall thicknesses in advance. Ejector pins must be considered, as should areas hbvpyy undercuts, tight internal radii, and numerous other details that could make or break your lightweight part.
As well as design, rapid prototyping is also accelerating test tracks as well as on-road evaluations. Engineers can produce multiple versions the exact same part, then use a skilled auto technician with auto technician training replace the parts on a production model for each and every test run. This flexibility can even allow engineers to check elements like driver comfort, like, as an example, having production vehicles designed with different variations of interior parts.
Thanks to simulation environments and rapid prototyping, the appearance of components just like the cooling systems are kept in much earlier inside the overall process. This implies fewer prototypes from the full vehicle are essential, allowing vehicles to go from concept to production far more quickly and smoothly. There is also a better correlation of air flow measurements involving the test part as well as the full vehicles, meaning fewer expensive changes are essential late in the process.