To reduce the weight of a car engine by 35%
Optimizing design and using multiple materials in one piece
Co-creation with Materialise; R & D, Design & Engineering and Certified Manufacturing
Greek philosopher Heraclitus is known for saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” Röchling could not agree more. In the late 1800s, they started to explore steel’s full potential for different markets, customers, products and technologies to see how it would be more optimal than coal – the main technology at the time. In 2006, when plastics gave a lightweight-but-durable alternative, they saw that it solved some of their biggest problems in automotive, medical and other industries. Since then the Röchling Group is a market leader in researching, testing and applying plastics for new and challenging applications to fix some of their customer’s pain points and add value. It’s because of this mentality that they became an early adopter of 3D printing, by starting to work with the technology over 15 years ago. Today, they continue to look to additive manufacturing because it has proven to solve some of their biggest challenges.
When a customer came to them and asked to reduce the weight of an engine by up to 35%, Röchling came to Materialise to make a prototype of their design. After some iterations they are on their way to meeting this goal.
Step one to lightweight design: Put metal only where needed
Röchling and their customer first thought of how to trim metal off the design. If something is too heavy then an easy win would be to remove any material that isn’t completely essential. What they did was pare down as much as possible the amount of metal needed for the engine block.
But this wasn’t enough. So what they did next was look into replacing the heavier metal areas with a material that is more lightweight.
And the combination of the two did the trick. Materialise’s daughter company ACTech, which specializes in rapid prototyping casts, produced the aluminium core of the cylinder block. They left in metal where the engine combustion happens – the part that has to hold up despite strong forces and high temperatures bearing down on it. The unusual geometry was easily converted into a ready-to-use prototype by using additive technology of 3D-printed sand mold packs.
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