First comes regulations, then comes panic, then comes innovation! With so many paths to take, this is where the approach automotive companies will utilize, to prepare for the changing emission and fuel efficiency standards, diverge. The top challenge most companies will face is how to get their vehicles to the new normal levels that will be expected of them, as they also try to innovate and include all of the technology consumers expect as we continue to move toward the “future car”.
Changing Fuel Efficiency Standards
Fuel efficiency standards for the United States, requires that the average mileage per gallon, now at 29 mpg be increased to 54.5 mpg by the year 2025. In Europe, cars must meet even more stringent emissions standards in an even shorter window, their deadline is 2020.
These industry regulations are not the only pressures that automotive businesses are facing. The customer demand for a lower cost vehicle, with high quality, sustainable structure and performance still remains in addition to the internal pressures to get it all done before the competitor.
What’s the Solution?
What’s the leading solution for how to make everyone happy? The answer is somewhere within lightweighting techniques and the use of new alternative materials like composites; however as auto makers begin to incorporate these techniques into their existing development processes, many will find, it is easier said than done. A need to dramatically rework the way cars are designed and manufactured may be necessary to comply without going broke!
Lightweighting with Composites
If you consider the approach of alternative materials for lightweigting purposes, namely composites, there is a lot of complexity and trickle down impact to be accounted for. The main obstacle when working with composites is the immense amount of detailed data required the accurately define a composite part so that it is developed as it was designed in a way that can be repeatable; without holding up production or leading to higher rates of scrapped parts and materials. The main benefit but complicated impact of lightweighting is its trickle down implications. When a lighter body is created, a lighter chassis can be used, a smaller engine, fuel take and battery are required thus resulting in even more weight savings however without taking these into consideration before a build could result in missed opportunity
Growing pains are inevitable and any time drastic change occurs there will be those who flourish and those who get left behind. Identifying the challenges, and the correct solutions will be critical.
Top Composite Challenges for Design and Manufacturing Engineers
For design engineers, top challenges in tackling composites are the lack of expertise, the unpredictability of the material and its performance thereafter, and lack of clear communication between design and manufacturing to ensure that the part is manufactured as it was designed.
For manufacturing engineers, top challenges are immediate. A lot of manufacturing floors are not laid out for composites and many are unfamiliar with composite manufacturing processes and techniques.
How long will companies wait to choose their path and how much are they willing to invest in the longterm efficiency of their processes and quality of their vehicles? Only time will tell, but the window for decision making is quickly closing.
If you are looking for more information on the best way to incorporate composites into your automobile design and manufacturing processes contact us. Fibersim may be the solution you need. We can you help you find the most efficient solution for your unique needs.