In the highly competitive Auto industry, speed to market, high strength to weight ratios and fuel efficiency are some of the considerations that constantly drive engineers and designers. Additive Manufacturing (AM) aligns with the needs of the automotive industry, driving advances in vehicle design.
In the automotive industry, additive manufacturing has become a high priority, with this technology frequently being used in development and production.
New high strength steels, along with composites and adhesives, are helping to reduce weight and increase strength in modern vehicles.
Additive manufacturing using metal alloys, has found interesting applications in structures, tooling, jigs and fixtures, and prototypes allowing companies to iterate rapidly and validate designs of components and subsystems.
A few major automotive companies are into series production with AM and others are producing on demand spares. While the numbers of players using AM for series production are low, there are certainly exotic and emerging applications in the low volume, higher end industry including luxury vehicles, electric vehicles, racing, Formula 1 and military vehicles.
Additive Manufacturing allows optimizing the maximum strength with minimum weight and material (Topology Optimization) owing to its capability to handle complex and organic geometries. “Monolithizing” subcomponents or child parts into a monolith assembly reduces production time and significantly improves functional performance.
Typical applications of Metal AM in Automotive are weight-optimized manifolds, turbine housings that form part of the current turbo powertrain ERS systems, water-wheel pumps, aluminium axle pivots.
One of the Largest Automotive Components built by Wipro 3D
The Steering Bracket is a component that connects the Steering Column and related components to the vehicle chassis and takes the steering loads.
In the original design, the Steering Bracket was quite heavy and unwieldy, while also having a traditional mechanical structure. This component was selected as a good candidate to apply light-weighting via Topology Optimization which would result in an organic design that would be best realised through Metal Additive Manufacturing.
Wipro 3D worked in collaboration with Altair to redesign and lightweight a Steering Bracket used in heavy commercial transport vehicles, for an automotive customer, while also ensuring Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) so that manufacturing feasibility was integrated into the new shape of the component, achieving the most efficient design for Metal 3D Printing right from the start.
The Design Process
The design process was to define the design space of the component and the non-design space or bolting areas. The design space included the entire volume in which we allowed material removal, while the non-design space defined all the areas where the material needed to interface with the subsequently attached parts such as the steering components and the chassis and hence where material cannot be removed. This was achieved by taking the original component model and filling in the volume in and around the existing structure, while maintaining allowances for assembly tools and fitment surfaces.
The Additively Designed Bracket was achieved using Wipro 3D’s proprietary Additive Thinking Framework and a topology optimized Steering Bracket was realized. The part was fabricated in EOS M400 machine and the part dimensions were quite large at 390 x 225 x 180 mm. A weight reduction of around 15% was achieved. The component is currently under field-testing and validation.
Additive Design and Engineering: An extensive research was done on the loading conditions and an organic topology optimized design was achieved.
Post Processing: A series of well-planned post processing activities were coordinated and executed to achieve the Bracket’s desired surface finish and mechanical properties.
Build Technology: Due to its complex overhanging structure, the component was challenging to realize in AM. We used one of our biggest machines – M400 to build the component and considering the post processing challenges, we used our proprietary Additive Thinking Framework to design innovative supports and realize the ‘Steering Bracket’.
AM Value Addition
Faster Design Iterations: The customer was able to realize the designs quickly and do the field tests and validations at an accelerated pace.
Achieved Superior Technology and Complex Geometry: An organic design of the steering bracket was achieved which was topology optimized and lighter in weight, which otherwise would not have been possible with casting or other conventional methods.
About Wipro 3D
Wipro 3D is an AS9100 and ISO9001 Certified metal AM solutions and services provider – a part of Wipro’s strategic initiative into the future of manufacturing. We have grown into a leading Metal AM services and solutions provider to the Aerospace, Space, Defence, Industrial, Heavy Engineering, Automotive, Energy, Nuclear & Healthcare sectors.
We offer Additive Manufacturing Consulting and Adaption Services, Additive Engineering Services, Additive Manufacturing, Research & Development Solutions as well as Design, Deployment and Operations of captive AM centres.
Read more about Wipro 3D, visit www.wipro-3d.com.
Wipro 3D is conducting an exclusive “AdditiveThinking Workshop” for the Automobile Industry on 4th and 6th July during the Automotive Engineering Show in Chennai, aimed at enabling organizations to adopt Metal Additive Manufacturing. Click here to know more or register.