Prototyping Supplies and Processes for Automotive Lightweighting – Material selection is vital 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 inside the auto market is researching ways to shed a few pounds. Well, make that a lot of pounds. You will find myriad material options to make it happen. The question is, how will you get the best choices and acquire them into test quickly? The Automotive Prototype available today certainly 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. Which needs to be fast too.
Protolabs specializes in rapid prototyping for exactly this requirement. Most of the time, you can upload a good model to the website and literally obtain 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. Here are some ideas from Protolabs regarding how to get to lighter parts faster.
Reducing Component Weight for Automotive Applications – Magnesium Instead of Steel
One thing 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 wind up creating a significantly lighter car. The secret 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 great place to start. With a density of 106 lb. per cubic foot, magnesium is definitely the lightest of structural metals, and has the highest strength-to-weight ratio too. It has a proven track record in 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 the N52 six-cylinder crankcases and cylinder head covers in 2005. Magnesium is routinely milled into a number of prototype parts. In comparison to aluminum, the lightweighting runner-up, it is more costly 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 has to be delivered to control fine chips and metal particles, as 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 light-weight furnace liner, magnesium is a superb selection for a number of components.
Plastic Instead of Metal – Magnesium and aluminum are great choices to steel for Automotive Molding, but thermoplastic and thermoset materials are robust possibilities too. An extensive selection ion of glass-, metal- or, ceramic-filled polymers as well as 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 frequently used in automotive interiors, battery cases, boat hulls, prosthetics as well as other products requiring toughness and light-weight weight. They feature superior strength-to-weight ratios and good impact resistance even at cold temperatures.
Polyethylene has mechanical properties similar to polypropylene but is much more rigid and gives greater resistance to warping. Due to the low cost and relatively high strength, polyethylene is well suited for the inner of a glove box, perhaps, or even a cold air intake. ABS is an additional thermoplastic with exceptional impact resistance and toughness. It is a lightweight option to metal found in dashboard trim, electronics enclosures, hubcap covers and other such automotive applications. Injection-molded ABS can also be 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 along with liquid silicone rubber (LSR) may also be used to switch metal parts. Polycarbonate is really 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 but only half the body weight of regular glass, which explains why “bulletproof glass” and aircraft windows are actually made from 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 accessible for machining or injection molding.
Nylon is among the strongest plastics available at Protolabs and is a wonderful candidate for sprockets, fan blades, gears, latches, manifolds and bearing surfaces. It’s also very light, with 15-percent the weight of steel and 40-percent of aluminum. Protolabs offers selective laser sintering (SLS) of countless engineering-grade nylons, which can be used functional testing of prototypes just before machining or injection molding. One of these is Nylon 11, a material that can be useful for living hinge designs as found 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 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, as well as other high-performance parts could 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 most molding applications. Upon curing, LSR becomes strong yet flexible, and is also appropriate for gaskets, lenses, connectors, and other parts which require excellent thermal, chemical and electrical resistance. Wiring harnesses, panel buttons, spark plug boots-these are but of some of the places LSR can be found 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 starting from Shore A 40 (soft such as an eraser) to Shore D 80 (hard like a bowling ball). It absolutely was created as an alternative for heatsinks, lighting shrouds along with other thermally conductive parts normally made from aluminum.
Sorting through all the various 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 the very least and replacing the legacy steel or iron used previously. For example, plastic parts which will eventually be mass-produced via injection molding must be designed with the right draft angles and wall thicknesses at the start. Ejector pins has to be considered, as should areas hbvpyy undercuts, tight internal radii, and a number of other details that can make or break your lightweight part.
Along with design, rapid prototyping can also be increasing test tracks and also on-road evaluations. Engineers can produce multiple versions the exact same part, then have 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 test elements like driver comfort, including, for instance, having production vehicles equipped with different variations of interior parts.
Because of simulation environments and rapid prototyping, the style of components just like the cooling systems are locked in much earlier inside the overall process. This means fewer prototypes in the full vehicle are essential, allowing vehicles to visit from concept to production a lot more quickly and smoothly. Additionally there is a better correlation of air-flow measurements between the test part as well as the full vehicles, meaning fewer expensive changes are essential late during this process.