Automotive Lightweighting Groups Get Serious

Ann R. Thryft

June 16, 2014

4 Min Read
Automotive Lightweighting Groups Get Serious

Industry trade groups, materials manufacturers, and software companies are getting serious about helping automotive manufacturers with vehicle lightweighting. This spring, four different consortia and partnerships were formed to help automakers and suppliers do even more to step up vehicle weight loss.

At the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in April, UK-based Granta Design unveiled the Automotive Material Intelligence Consortium, which will develop best-practices for materials information and use for automotive and off-road vehicle OEMs and suppliers in both Europe and the US. The company's materials information management software and database has played a key role in the aerospace and defense industry for metals and composites, as we've told you, and its MI: Automotive Package aims to do something similar for the automotive industry.

The new consortium is modeled after two others, the Material Data Management Consortium and the Environmental Materials Information Technology Consortium, which include members from multiple manufacturing sectors. Granta will provide software and tools for managing and integrating materials data, as well as data on polymers, composites, lightweight alloys, and automotive steels.

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Also at the SAE World Congress, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced an updated version of its Plastics and Polymer Composites Technology Roadmap for Automotive Markets. The roadmap is intended to help OEMs and suppliers adopt the use of plastics and polymer composites for reducing vehicle weight. It recommends several cooperative, industry-wide demonstration projects to generate standardized materials data, as well as develop predictive models, specifications, and design guidelines. The intention is to give plastics and composites suppliers enough data so they can enhance their materials' properties and improve manufacturing and assembly, as well as continue to develop new materials. The ACC's Plastics Division says the roadmap is the result of close collaboration between its member companies and the automotive industry, as well as federal regulatory agencies and research firms.

A new partnership between polyamide maker Solvay Engineering Plastics and e-Xstream promises to give automotive OEMs better predictive simulation of shifting designs from metal to plastic by giving them access to more than 50 polyamide materials and 7,600 data files. The collaboration, announced in May, makes available to Solvay Engineering Plastics customers a simulation service called MMI (multi-scale modeling, mechanical calculation, injection molding simulation) Technyl Design. The service is based on e-Xstream's Digimat material modeling platform and Solvay's Technyl family of high-performance plastics for automotive and other industries. The MMI Technyl Design service integrates a comprehensive encrypted materials database and injection molding process modeling, allowing a wide range of calculations that help manufacturers accurately predict the performance of injection-molded parts.

Also in May, WorldAutoSteel launched its Advanced High-Strength Steels Application Guidelines Version 5.0. Version 5.0 of the guidelines covers newer types of materials that are now available, as well as advanced fabrication technologies and optimized joining processes, in addition to the metallurgy, forming, and joining topics that appeared in earlier versions. The 276-page guidelines discuss a wide range of advanced high-strength steel types such as dual-phase (DP), complex phase (CP), ferritic-bainitic (FB), martensitic (MS), transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP), hot-formed (HF), and twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP). The guidelines' Volume I covers metallurgy, forming, and joining subjects, while Volume II has more than 200 pages of case studies demonstrating actual manufacturing in practice.

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About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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