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Additive Manufacturing’s ‘Less Filling’ Tastes Great for Renault

Posted on January 18th, 2017 by in New Materials & Applications

Renault Trucks

Image is a derivative of “3D printing for the design of engines of the future” by Renault Trucks, used under Standard YouTube Service. Image is licensed under CC BY by Kenneth Klapproth.

Curious to learn how engineers at Renault Trucks were able to shave 120kg of weight off their 4 cylinder Euro 6 engine?

Proving once again that it’s advantageous to revisit existing designs when new technologies emerge, the engineering team at Renault Trucks are reaping several benefits from the application of additive manufacturing on their Euro 6 engine. Detailed in an announcement from the company, the Renault Trucks Lyon Powertrain Engineering department has used metal 3D printing on several components in their DTI 5 engine resulting in a 25% reduction in weight as well as a streamlined overall configuration featuring 200 fewer parts. Results of the redesign include:

  • Alternator bracket weight reduced 18%
  • Wiring harness bracket weight reduced 42%
  • Bearing cap weight reduced 36%
  • Rocker arm weight reduced 36%
  • 80 parts integrated simplifying the cylinder block
  • 45 parts integrated simplifying the cylinder head

Unlike traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques such as milling, drilling, reaming, or turning, where final part shapes are hewn from oversized billets of material, additive manufacturing enables deposition of only the material that’s needed. This is not only more efficient from a manufacturing perspective, but also from a structural perspective. Final shapes or configurations of parts can be optimized for requisite load paths – putting exactly the amount of material necessary for performance.

As Renault engineers discovered, additive manufacturing can dramatically change the overall shape of a part, significantly reducing the amount of material that is structurally required. Have a look at the following video to learn more:

Of all the examples highlighted in the video, the wire harness bracket appears the most dramatic to me. Functioning as a wire chase, this part is largely non-structural. From the appearance of the original configuration shown in the video, engineers likely chose stamped sheet metal to fabricate this part for its economy. As evidenced by the new design however, there certainly is an excess of material to insure adequate performance.

Lightweighting for fuel economy and reduced emissions is a contemporary challenge in the automotive industry. As additive manufacturing continues to mature, more engineers and designers will find it worthwhile to rethink existing designs with new outcomes in mind. Finally, there appears to be a weight-loss resolution for the New Year that’s not only possible to stick to but also achieve.

How many over-designed components are in your company’s products? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.

Related Content:

The Role of 3D Printing in Sustainable Manufacturing by Christina Valimaki

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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