Prototyping Supplies and Processes for Automotive Lightweighting – Material selection is the key factor to make vehicles lighter. Here’s a quick glance at the best options which also lend themselves to quick-turn, fully functional prototypes.
Everybody inside the auto market is looking for ways to shed some weight. Well, make that the majority of pounds. You will find myriad material options to get it done. Now you ask ,, how could you make 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 of the product development process. But there’s still a requirement for physical, functional prototypes to prove out design assumptions. Which needs to be fast too.
Protolabs specializes in rapid prototyping for exactly this requirement. Most of the time, it is possible to upload an excellent model to the website and literally obtain 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. Here are some ideas from Protolabs regarding how to be able to lighter parts faster.
Reducing Component Weight for Automotive Applications – Magnesium Instead of Steel
Something to keep in mind before starting any lightweighting project would be to take small bites. Shaving ounces and even fractions of ounces away from each component will end up building a significantly lighter car. The trick would be to develop products that fulfill cost and duty requirements but use alternate materials and clever designs to reduce weight. Fortunately for designers and engineers, today’s array of prototyping materials and advanced manufacturing technologies are coming up with new opportunities for iterative, even parallel-path design testing.
Magnesium is a great place to begin. With a density of 106 lb. per cubic foot, magnesium is definitely the lightest of all structural metals, and has the highest strength-to-weight ratio as well. It carries a proven track record within the automotive, aerospace, medical and electronics industries, and is also utilized in everything from fuel tanks to gearboxes. As an example, BMW started using magnesium for 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 number of prototype parts. When compared with aluminum, the lightweighting runner-up, it 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 has to be come to control fine chips and metal particles, as these could 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 Instead of Metal – Magnesium and aluminum are fantastic choices to steel for Automotive Molding, but thermoplastic and thermoset materials are robust possibilities also. A comprehensive selection ion of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers along with liquid silicone rubber (LSR) can also be used to switch metal parts, thus reducing product cost and weight while improving durability. Some of the best alternatives include: Polypropylene is a flexible, fatigue resistant family of thermoplastics widely used in automotive interiors, battery cases, boat hulls, prosthetics along with other products requiring toughness and lightweight 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 resistance to warping. Because of its affordable and relatively high strength, polyethylene is well best for the inner of any glove box, perhaps, or perhaps a cold air intake. ABS is another thermoplastic with exceptional impact resistance and toughness. This is a lightweight substitute for metal found in dashboard trim, electronics enclosures, hubcap covers and other such automotive applications. Injection-molded ABS is additionally 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.
A thorough selection of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers in addition to liquid silicone rubber (LSR) could also be used to switch metal parts. Polycarbonate is actually a transparent material often used for thermoformed parts where glass is unsuitable, because of weight or breakage concerns. It has 250 times the impact resistance only half the body weight of regular glass, which is the reason “bulletproof glass” and aircraft windows are in fact 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 probably the strongest plastics offered 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 several engineering-grade nylons, which can be used functional testing of prototypes before machining or injection molding. One of these brilliant is Nylon 11, a material that can be useful for living hinge designs as utilized in hose and wire clips, washer fluid caps, along with other automobile components.
Acetal, 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 replace 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 can be milled or injection molded from different grades of acetal copolymer or homopolymers stocked at Protolabs.
Liquid silicone rubber (LSR), is really a versatile material for many molding applications. Upon curing, LSR becomes strong yet flexible, and is suitable for gaskets, lenses, connectors, and other parts that need excellent thermal, chemical and electrical resistance. Wiring harnesses, panel buttons, spark plug boots-these are 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, a unique polymer moldable in hardness levels ranging from Shore A 40 (soft such as an eraser) to Shore D 80 (hard just like a bowling ball). It was created as a replacement for heatsinks, lighting shrouds as well as other thermally conductive parts normally manufactured from aluminum.
Sorting through all of the different possibilities is one of 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 the very least and replacing the legacy steel or iron used previously. As an example, plastic parts which will eventually be mass-produced via injection molding has to be created with the proper draft angles and wall thicknesses in advance. Ejector pins must be considered, as should areas hbvpyy undercuts, tight internal radii, and a host of other details that could make or break your lightweight part.
In addition to design, rapid prototyping can also be accelerating test tracks as well as on-road evaluations. Engineers can produce multiple versions of the identical part, then possess 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 built with different variations of interior parts.
Due to simulation environments and rapid prototyping, the design of components such as the cooling systems are locked in much earlier within the overall process. This implies fewer prototypes in the full vehicle are needed, allowing vehicles to visit from concept to production a lot more quickly and smoothly. Additionally there is a better correlation of ventilation measurements between the test part as well as the full vehicles, meaning fewer expensive changes are essential late in the process.