https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/17140710/64-65-Toyota-displays-its-new-car-concept-at-an-exhibition-about-future-mobility-electric-and-fuell-cell-cars-photo-by-Maximalfocus-640x360.jpg
    Software

    Creating a more sustainable automotive industry through electrification

    • By MTDCNC
    • September 17, 2020
    • 7 minute read

    Electrification is a growing force within the transportation sector, with more e-bikes and electric vehicles launching every year. This change is being driven by multiple forces such as government initiatives for greener transportation, industry innovation to find more sustainable solutions and consumers growing more conscientious of their environmental footprint. Alex Stern, Senior Industry Strategy Manager Automotive at Autodesk gives MTD magazine his perspective.

    In a bid to reduce CO2 emission levels, governments are moving to ban internal combustion (IC) engines, which currently account for 40% of oil consumption in Europe. Sales of new IC engines will be discontinued from 2040 in the UK and France; possibly even earlier than that, with more emphasis being placed on EV. In the UK specifically, the use or purchase of EVs are also being heavily incentivised to drive adoption. Here are three of the approaches transforming how the automotive manufacturing industry is making electric vehicles and the resulting environmental benefits.

    A new approach to power

    To cope with EV demand, within the next three years we’ll need the UK to launch its first full-scale Gigafactory for battery production. This is according to the Harwell-based Faraday Institution, a research institute backed by the government to ensure a steady supply of batteries in the future. However, simply replacing oil with electric batteries isn’t enough to lower emissions. The electrification of the automotive industry will require advanced manufacturing methods to change different aspects of the car, from the engine to the weight and also the battery.

    At present, the biggest challenge is the battery and the vehicle architecture. Manufacturers need to integrate the battery and produce a car that enables the battery to be as powerful as possible – both in the most cost-efficient way. Battery cost is predicted to fall as production capabilities increase, but this will require funding for at least eight full-sized Gigafactories to be built over the next 20 years. Manufacturers will need to save costs in other parts of the production process to afford these investments. 

    One way to reduce cost is related to how engines are put together. IC engines are currently cast in metal, which is then milled and drilled in two or three sections and joined together. Electric motors have fewer parts than IC engines. They are lighter, less complex, and have lower stresses on the materials. This opens up new process opportunities for the use of lighter materials, for less energy-intensive production and for the adoption of different techniques, including additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

    Additive manufacturing can dispense with conventional tooling, as minimal machining is required. Parts to integrate into an electric battery can be produced as needed, removing expensive inventory and lowering costs. They can also incorporate design upgrades, as they are developed without waiting for the next model cycle.

    Multi-material printing capabilities provide opportunities for innovative end products, made of multiple materials that become part of each other. Sensors, batteries, electronics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) can also be embedded directly into components.

    Sustainability: Consumption and recycling materials

    Sustainability applies as much to manufacturing processes as to materials. When building electric vehicles, there will be a growing focus on recycling, recyclability and closed loop manufacturing.

    The European Union’s End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive 2000/53/EC sets recovery targets for recycling of vehicles and components, encourages manufacturers to design their vehicles with part reuse and recycling in mind, and restricts the use of certain heavy metals in new vehicle manufacturing processes. In the case of some plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a commonly recyclable plastic resin, recycling of RPET (recycled plastic bottles) has been found to use 70% less energy than virgin fibre production. Elsewhere, additive manufacturing can save as much as 94% of the material by using Rapid Deposition Process (RDP), instead of conventional billet milling and fabrication.

    Sustainability will increasingly be fed and guided by data. Sensors embedded in cars and factories now capture the physical properties and behaviours of objects and extract useful data from them. ‘Digital twins’ can virtually replicate production processes and collect information from products during simulation; designers incorporate this knowledge to improve and modify products, even during lifecycles.

    We’re already seeing this being put into practice. For example, Jaguar Land Rover is designing vehicles that recycle aluminium from old cars to manufacture new cars. The development for the second phase of the ‘closed-loop strategy’ has begun with pre-production of Jaguar iPace SUVs destined to be scrapped. Once the batteries have been removed and either recycled or placed into a ‘second life’, sensors in the advanced scrap process identify aluminium, which is then recovered and reformed to produce new cars.

    Weight and see: exploring generative design

    The engine is the heaviest item in an IC-powered vehicle; in the case of electric vehicles, it’s the battery. The bigger the battery, the more power and the longer the range or higher the speed. The relationship between weight and range/power is even more impactful in electric cars than in IC vehicles. Small weight savings can make a big difference in performance.

    Any weight saving can be used to increase the size of the battery and subsequently, car performance. Materials are inevitably the first thing considered when it comes to reducing weight – and improving overall vehicle performance and through-life costs.

    Furthermore, ‘lightweighting’ can be achieved by either switching to a lighter material or by reducing the amount of material used in the design. The generative design gives vehicle manufacturers a proven way to improve fuel economy by replacing components with a variety of lightweight, recyclable materials, such as aluminium, magnesium, or PLA plastics. It also enables manufacturers to consolidate components into fewer parts. The generative design gives vehicle manufacturers a proven way to improve fuel economy by replacing components with a variety of lightweight materials, including aluminium, magnesium, high-strength steel, plastics and CFRP. 3D printing can also be used to produce lightweight components, personalised components for mass customisation and on-demand prototypes for generatively designed parts.

    Electric motors do not just permit different car layouts, they require them. The shape of battery packs – long, wide and flat – facilitate designs with a lower centre of gravity and allow designers to spread the weight across the car’s structure rather more than is the case with IC powered vehicles, where the weight of the engine is in one specific place. This means that load-bearing structures may not have to carry as much weight, making them lighter. This lighter structure means that more weight can be used in a heavier, more powerful battery.

    Closing thoughts

    The opportunity to use different materials and techniques will revolutionise EV production. Different materials or compositions will continue to be used in the structure of electric cars.  Advancing technologies in additive manufacturing will permit larger printed structures to reduce weight and increase the power of batteries.

    Recycling techniques will continue to increase in maturity, while new light-weighting approaches through generative design will be pivotal to improving power consumption and the range of electric vehicles as an essential design tool in optimising weight, shapes and structures. Additive manufacturing has the potential to become more widely adopted as its capacity to produce high volume parts increases, its cycle time reduces and costs fall.

    Electrification is already playing a pivotal role in accelerating innovation in the car industry and automotive manufacturers are being supported by the government, consumers and the wider industry to continue driving this change.

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/17140710/64-65-Toyota-displays-its-new-car-concept-at-an-exhibition-about-future-mobility-electric-and-fuell-cell-cars-photo-by-Maximalfocus-640x360.jpg

    Creating a more sustainable automotive industry through electrification

    Electrification is a growing force within the transportation sector, with more e-bikes and electric vehicles launching every year. This change is being driven by multiple forces such as government initiatives for greener transportation, industry innovation to find more sustainable solutions and consumers growing more conscientious of their environmental footprint. Alex Stern, Senior Industry Strategy Manager Automotive at Autodesk gives MTD magazine his perspective.

    In a bid to reduce CO2 emission levels, governments are moving to ban internal combustion (IC) engines, which currently account for 40% of oil consumption in Europe. Sales of new IC engines will be discontinued from 2040 in the UK and France; possibly even earlier than that, with more emphasis being placed on EV. In the UK specifically, the use or purchase of EVs are also being heavily incentivised to drive adoption. Here are three of the approaches transforming how the automotive manufacturing industry is making electric vehicles and the resulting environmental benefits.

    A new approach to power

    To cope with EV demand, within the next three years we’ll need the UK to launch its first full-scale Gigafactory for battery production. This is according to the Harwell-based Faraday Institution, a research institute backed by the government to ensure a steady supply of batteries in the future. However, simply replacing oil with electric batteries isn’t enough to lower emissions. The electrification of the automotive industry will require advanced manufacturing methods to change different aspects of the car, from the engine to the weight and also the battery.

    At present, the biggest challenge is the battery and the vehicle architecture. Manufacturers need to integrate the battery and produce a car that enables the battery to be as powerful as possible – both in the most cost-efficient way. Battery cost is predicted to fall as production capabilities increase, but this will require funding for at least eight full-sized Gigafactories to be built over the next 20 years. Manufacturers will need to save costs in other parts of the production process to afford these investments. 

    One way to reduce cost is related to how engines are put together. IC engines are currently cast in metal, which is then milled and drilled in two or three sections and joined together. Electric motors have fewer parts than IC engines. They are lighter, less complex, and have lower stresses on the materials. This opens up new process opportunities for the use of lighter materials, for less energy-intensive production and for the adoption of different techniques, including additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

    Additive manufacturing can dispense with conventional tooling, as minimal machining is required. Parts to integrate into an electric battery can be produced as needed, removing expensive inventory and lowering costs. They can also incorporate design upgrades, as they are developed without waiting for the next model cycle.

    Multi-material printing capabilities provide opportunities for innovative end products, made of multiple materials that become part of each other. Sensors, batteries, electronics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) can also be embedded directly into components.

    Sustainability: Consumption and recycling materials

    Sustainability applies as much to manufacturing processes as to materials. When building electric vehicles, there will be a growing focus on recycling, recyclability and closed loop manufacturing.

    The European Union’s End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive 2000/53/EC sets recovery targets for recycling of vehicles and components, encourages manufacturers to design their vehicles with part reuse and recycling in mind, and restricts the use of certain heavy metals in new vehicle manufacturing processes. In the case of some plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a commonly recyclable plastic resin, recycling of RPET (recycled plastic bottles) has been found to use 70% less energy than virgin fibre production. Elsewhere, additive manufacturing can save as much as 94% of the material by using Rapid Deposition Process (RDP), instead of conventional billet milling and fabrication.

    Sustainability will increasingly be fed and guided by data. Sensors embedded in cars and factories now capture the physical properties and behaviours of objects and extract useful data from them. ‘Digital twins’ can virtually replicate production processes and collect information from products during simulation; designers incorporate this knowledge to improve and modify products, even during lifecycles.

    We’re already seeing this being put into practice. For example, Jaguar Land Rover is designing vehicles that recycle aluminium from old cars to manufacture new cars. The development for the second phase of the ‘closed-loop strategy’ has begun with pre-production of Jaguar iPace SUVs destined to be scrapped. Once the batteries have been removed and either recycled or placed into a ‘second life’, sensors in the advanced scrap process identify aluminium, which is then recovered and reformed to produce new cars.

    Weight and see: exploring generative design

    The engine is the heaviest item in an IC-powered vehicle; in the case of electric vehicles, it’s the battery. The bigger the battery, the more power and the longer the range or higher the speed. The relationship between weight and range/power is even more impactful in electric cars than in IC vehicles. Small weight savings can make a big difference in performance.

    Any weight saving can be used to increase the size of the battery and subsequently, car performance. Materials are inevitably the first thing considered when it comes to reducing weight – and improving overall vehicle performance and through-life costs.

    Furthermore, ‘lightweighting’ can be achieved by either switching to a lighter material or by reducing the amount of material used in the design. The generative design gives vehicle manufacturers a proven way to improve fuel economy by replacing components with a variety of lightweight, recyclable materials, such as aluminium, magnesium, or PLA plastics. It also enables manufacturers to consolidate components into fewer parts. The generative design gives vehicle manufacturers a proven way to improve fuel economy by replacing components with a variety of lightweight materials, including aluminium, magnesium, high-strength steel, plastics and CFRP. 3D printing can also be used to produce lightweight components, personalised components for mass customisation and on-demand prototypes for generatively designed parts.

    Electric motors do not just permit different car layouts, they require them. The shape of battery packs – long, wide and flat – facilitate designs with a lower centre of gravity and allow designers to spread the weight across the car’s structure rather more than is the case with IC powered vehicles, where the weight of the engine is in one specific place. This means that load-bearing structures may not have to carry as much weight, making them lighter. This lighter structure means that more weight can be used in a heavier, more powerful battery.

    Closing thoughts

    The opportunity to use different materials and techniques will revolutionise EV production. Different materials or compositions will continue to be used in the structure of electric cars.  Advancing technologies in additive manufacturing will permit larger printed structures to reduce weight and increase the power of batteries.

    Recycling techniques will continue to increase in maturity, while new light-weighting approaches through generative design will be pivotal to improving power consumption and the range of electric vehicles as an essential design tool in optimising weight, shapes and structures. Additive manufacturing has the potential to become more widely adopted as its capacity to produce high volume parts increases, its cycle time reduces and costs fall.

    Electrification is already playing a pivotal role in accelerating innovation in the car industry and automotive manufacturers are being supported by the government, consumers and the wider industry to continue driving this change.