Automotive car makers increasingly use light-weight aluminium structures to reduce the environmental footprint of cars during life-of-use (lower energy consumption) and to allow for the heavy batteries used in electric vehicles. The target of this project is to enable more sustainable car production patterns by developing a new modular mold concept and simulation tools to enable larger low-pressure die casted safety-critical parts and by this reduce the need for casting and welding of multiple parts, thus also reduced handling and transport between production sites.
Developing a new mold concept with multiple blocks will improve lifetime and enable reduction of production scrap and increase production efficiency, which promotes sustainable production patterns. Simulations and tests for optimizing the heat treatment process and in particular reducing solution time could result in a considerable reduction of energy use (up to 25%). The reduced need for welding, straightening and pre-machining will result in thus production with lower energy and transport needs.
Aludyne, SINTEF and IFE will during the project develop the solutions including a new modular mould technology, sealings for metal-to-metal contact and a digital twin for the heat treatment process to optimize process and control deformations.
The manufacturing time and cost for complex structures in general is greatly reduced with the number of components to be assembled. An example of this is the Tesla Model 3 rear underbody which is made from 70 pieces of metal while the Tesla Model Y rear underbody is made from 2 pieces of metal.
It goes without saying that 2 pieces of metal are a lot more easy to join mechanically than 70 different pieces of metal, thereby saving costs for the producer of the car (labour hours, machine investments, less weight due to reduction of joining materials). Tesla has managed this reduction by building the largest high pressure die casting machine in the world.
Aludyne Norway AS located in Farsund, Agder, is one of the largest producers of aluminium automotive subframes in Europe. They are produced by a low pressure die casting technique. Low pressure casting promises better mechanical properties and quality, which allows to use this process for chassis components and structural services. The subframe has to be connected to many other parts to form the front or rear underbody. Significant savings in production cost and later assembly cost for the customer of Aludyne can be reached by producing larger cast structures.
The production of large castings is, however, limited by the development of the internal stresses and deformations in large structures and therefore it is difficult to reach the required dimensional accuracy. The automotive part has to fulfil very strict requirements in order for the part to “fit into the car”, these requirements are at the order of some few hundred microns on key locations. If these locations are, say 2 meter apart, it is impossible to make in a cost-effective way with the technology available today.
The project will develop the solutions including a new modular mould technology, sealings for metal to metal contact and a digital twin for deformation control.