Prototyping Supplies and Processes for Automotive Lightweighting – Material selection is the key factor for making vehicles lighter. Here’s a quick glance at the best options that also lend themselves to quick-turn, completely functional prototypes.
Everybody within the auto sector is looking for ways to shed a few pounds. Well, make that many pounds. There are myriad material options to make it happen. The question is, how can you get the best choices and acquire them into test quickly? The Automotive Prototype on the market today certainly are a real boon towards the early stages 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 specializes in rapid prototyping for exactly this requirement. Oftentimes, you can upload a good model to the website and literally get yourself 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 concerning how to reach lighter parts faster.
Reducing Component Weight for Automotive Applications – Magnesium Instead of Steel
Something to remember before embarking on any lightweighting project is always to take small bites. Shaving ounces and even fractions of ounces from each component will find yourself making a significantly lighter car. The secret is to develop products which fulfill cost and duty requirements but use alternate materials and clever designs to lessen weight. Fortunately for designers and engineers, today’s selection of prototyping materials and advanced manufacturing technologies are coming up with new opportunities for iterative, even parallel-path design testing.
Magnesium is an excellent place to start. Having a density of 106 lb. per cubic foot, magnesium is the lightest of all the structural metals, and it has the greatest strength-to-weight ratio as well. It carries a established track record inside the automotive, aerospace, medical and electronics industries, and it is utilized in 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 its N52 six-cylinder crankcases and cylinder head covers in 2005. Magnesium is routinely milled into a variety of prototype parts. In comparison to aluminum, the lightweighting runner-up, it 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, even though some care has to be taken to control fine chips and metal particles, as 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 light-weight furnace liner, magnesium is a wonderful selection for a variety of components.
Plastic Rather than Metal – Magnesium and aluminum are excellent choices 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 in addition to liquid silicone rubber (LSR) can also be used to replace metal parts, thus reducing product cost and weight while improving durability. Among the best alternatives include: Polypropylene is really a flexible, fatigue resistant group of thermoplastics widely 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 a lot more rigid and offers greater effectiveness against warping. Due to the affordable and relatively high strength, polyethylene is well best for the inside of any glove box, perhaps, or a cold air intake. ABS is yet another thermoplastic with exceptional impact resistance and toughness. It really is a lightweight option to metal found in dashboard trim, electronics enclosures, hubcap covers as well as other such automotive applications. Injection-molded ABS can also be available in either flame-retardant or anti-static grades in a rainbow of colors. Chrome-plated ABS is utilized on hubcaps, grills and fender flares.
A thorough choice of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers along with liquid silicone rubber (LSR) can also be used to change metal parts. Polycarbonate is really a transparent material often utilized for thermoformed parts where glass is unsuitable, because of weight or breakage concerns. It has 250 times the impact resistance only half the weight of regular glass, which is the reason “bulletproof glass” and aircraft windows are in fact made of polycarbonate or its a little more flexible cousin, acrylic. Protolabs 3D prints this material 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 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 load of steel and 40-percent of aluminum. Protolabs offers selective laser sintering (SLS) of various engineering-grade nylons, which can be used as functional testing of prototypes before machining or injection molding. One of those is Nylon 11, a material that can be useful for living hinge designs as found in hose and wire clips, washer fluid caps, as well as other automobile components.
Acetal, commonly known by its trade name Delrin, is really a regular go-to material for machined prototypes. It is actually strong and stiff and regularly called upon to replace precision metal parts in a selection of industrial and consumer products. Electrical and fuel system components, power transmission parts like gears, bushings, and bearings, along with other high-performance parts can be milled or injection molded from different grades of acetal copolymer or homopolymers stocked at Protolabs.
Liquid silicone rubber (LSR), is actually a versatile material for most molding applications. Upon curing, LSR becomes strong yet flexible, and it is suitable 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 but of couple of the places LSR are available in modern vehicles.
Liquid silicone rubber is strong but flexible. A new material at Protolabs worth mention is CoolPoly, an exclusive polymer moldable in hardness levels which range from Shore A 40 (soft such as an eraser) to Shore D 80 (hard like a bowling ball). It was created as a replacement for heatsinks, lighting shrouds as well as other thermally conductive parts normally made from aluminum.
Sorting through all the different possibilities is among the biggest challenges with China Plastic Molding. That’s because improving product design within the automotive world isn’t a point of grabbing whatever material weighs minimal and replacing the legacy steel or iron used previously. As an example, plastic parts which will eventually be mass-produced via injection molding must be made with the proper draft angles and wall thicknesses up front. Ejector pins has to be considered, as should areas hbvpyy undercuts, tight internal radii, and numerous other details that can make or break your lightweight part.
Along with design, rapid prototyping is also increasing 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 parts on the production model for each and every test run. This flexibility can even allow engineers to evaluate elements like driver comfort, like, for example, having production vehicles equipped with different variations of interior parts.
Due to simulation environments and rapid prototyping, the appearance of components such as the cooling systems are kept in much earlier in the overall process. This implies fewer prototypes from the full vehicle are needed, allowing vehicles to travel from concept to production far more quickly and smoothly. There is also a better correlation of ventilation measurements involving the test part and the full vehicles, meaning fewer expensive changes are needed late along the way.