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Why Porosity Sealing Is Key To Delivering Next-Generation EVs

Why Porosity Sealing is Key to Delivering Next-Generation EVs

Dr. Mark Cross of Ultraseal International explores the role of vacuum impregnation when implementing zero waste, zero defect and continuous improvements in hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturing.

Fast-cycle times increase throughput for both single and multi-part processing.

With the world focused on finding sustainable, low-carbon solutions for travel, the move to hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) adoption is well underway. 

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, EV sales (mild hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full battery-electric vehicles) are expected to surpass internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicle sales by 2030, taking 51 percent of the market, with BEV and PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) categories accounting for 25 percent of total vehicle sales. However, 82 percent of cars will still contain an ICE powertrain, with PHEVs, HEVs and mild hybrids all using internal combustion engines alongside their electric powertrain.

Automotive manufacturers are under pressures from many sides. On the consumer side, there is a sharp drop in confidence in diesel due to the introduction of clean air zones, some of which are already in force, and a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles in the UK by 2035.

Meanwhile, governments around the world are tightening up on automotive emission legislation. In Europe, there are increasingly stringent CO2-emission regulations. In China, efficiency is paramount, with their ever-stricter Corporate Average Fuel Consumption (CAFC) and New-Energy Vehicle (NEV) regulations testament to that.

To meet these regulations and consumer needs, car makers are gearing up to launch a wave of new electric vehicle (EV) models during 2020. Many EVs on the market in recent years have been targeted at high-end markets with a price tag to match. However, 2020 will see the launch of EVs which are much more familiar and accessible to the average driver, including the MINI, the Vauxhall Corsa, the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen ID.3 and e-Up! being just a few to mention.

There’s no doubt that significant advances have already been achieved in hybrid and BEV manufacturing in recent years. However, while these vehicles offer a greener alternative during operation, it is increasingly important that the engineering and manufacturing process behind them is also environmentally sustainable.

The Role of Vacuum Impregnation in Automotive Manufacturing

With vehicle weight having an adverse effect on battery usage, hybrid and BEV manufacturers are increasingly looking at ways to reduce overall vehicle mass. The use of structural die cast components can help – especially if manufacturers opt to substitute materials, such as steel, with lightweight materials like aluminium. By manufacturing drive and powertrain components, such as electric motors, from die cast aluminium, car makers can further reduce vehicle weight. In turn, battery range can be extended for BEVs and HEVs, while reducing vehicle emissions for the latter as well.

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Sandvik Creates The World’s Most Sustainable Steel Knives

Sandvik Creates The World’s Most Sustainable Steel Knives

Most customers turn to Sandvik Materials Technology when they’re searching for large steel billets and tubes, or equipment for industrial furnaces. However, Sandvik’s expertise also extends to the kitchen and the company has previously worked with professional chefs to develop steel knives. When Craig Lockwood set out to create the world’s most sustainable knives, he knew where to turn for an environmentally-conscious material choice.

Lockwood is the owner of handmade knives business Chop Knives, and has supplied his products to prestigious restaurants including Michelin-starred Black Swan and L’Enclume in the UK. He doesn’t just want to make the best knives on the market, Lockwood also wants his products to be the most sustainable knife choice.

Steel sustainability

The most common blade steel types fall into three categories: carbon steel, tool steel and stainless steel. While carbon steel is generally used for rough use where toughness is important, stainless steel’s added chromium can increase a knife blade’s performance levels.

Steel is the best-performing blade material, but Lockwood battled with its environmental status when creating the world’s most sustainable knives. “As a responsible maker, I thought a lot about how I could make a kitchen knife with a positive effect on the planet. I knew I needed to closely follow the material supply chain to find the best suppliers.”

Steel provides solutions to infrastructure and construction around the world. The material helps build climate resilient cities and coastal protection, and forms protective designs that minimise the effects of natural disasters. While some of steel’s many uses undoubtedly do good for our planet, the steel industry also generates between seven and nine per cent of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuel.

So why would Lockwood choose steel as his sustainable blade choice? While the initial production of steel emits large quantities of carbon dioxide, industry leaders are acting to improve the material’s sustainability. Steel is infinitely recyclable, and can be continually repurposed without the loss of properties or performance.

Scrap value

When we think of repurposing old steel, or scrap steel, it could be easy to question the used metal’s quality. To ensure recycled steel maintains its properties, it’s important that the original manufacturer takes responsibility over their material. If a scrap dealer disposes of used steel, it could impact its quality and sustainability.

Difficulties start as steel scrap sorting is not always thorough and similar steel grades are often mixed together. This downcycles the quality of the steel when reusing it as a secondary raw material. It also means the manufacturer must add virgin materials to get the right composition when creating a specific steel grade, which perpetuates a less-sustainable supply chain.

Instead, steel manufacturers can ensure the quality of recycled steel by managing their original assets. Across the European steel industry, steel is typically made up of around 50 per cent recycled material, the rest is virgin raw material. At Sandvik, our steel is made up of around 82 per cent secondary raw material, and our goal is to reach 90 per cent by 2030.

The Chop Knives are made up of 78 per cent recycled steel, which Lockwood cuts, shapes and grinds in his workshop to form the perfect blades. The specific steel grades used in the knives are 14C28N and Sandvik 12C27M. This is a martensitic stainless chromium steel developed for the manufacture of kitchen tools.

What’s more, the knives’ steel is produced in one of the most ecologically sound steel mills in the world. A Sandvik steel mill uses an electric furnace to heat the material before it’s casted and hot rolled. The hot-rolled strips are then treated onsite, reducing transport and ensuring traceability throughout the process. To power the electric furnaces, Sandvik relies of nuclear and hydropower.

Environmentally sharp

In addition to the knives’ blades, Lockwood has also worked to create sustainable knife handles. He reuses kitchen waste, such as yoghurt pots, meat packing trays or water bottles, to help his create a product that completely encapsulates his sustainability values.

The perfect blend of materials innovation, paired with creative thinking, have proven the perfect recipe for Craig Lockwood’s sustainable knives.

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Cutting Costs, While Saving The Planet For Tool Makers

Cutting Costs, While Saving The Planet For Tool Makers

The main driver of business sustainability goals is to make an impact on the wider world. Another benefit that is often overlooked is the economic value of implementing sustainable actions. Can businesses save money, while helping to protect the planet? Here, Sachin Pimpalnerkar, global segment manager for renewable energy at global engineering group, Sandvik, explains how Sandvik Machining Solutions (SMS) has optimised two crucial toolmaking technologies to achieve just that.

Almost everything made of metal is machined with an insert. The insert has to withstand extreme heat and force, so is made of some of the hardest materials in the world. Typically, an insert is made using 80 per cent tungsten carbide, renowned for its superior durability, and a metal matrix that binds the carbide grains together, where cobalt is the most common.

Tough components created to withstand some of the most intense working environments require manufacturing processes that are equally strenuous.

Sintering

One of the most intense steps in tool insert manufacturing is the sintering process. After the carefully selected metal powders are milled and then pressed into shape, the inserts are very fragile. It is at this stage that the inserts are fused, or sintered, into solid pieces.

Sintering is not a quick process — but time is money. Keeping powerful furnaces in operation for many hours at a time uses up immense amounts of energy, but cutting corners and producing fragile inserts would be even more wasteful. If a reduction in energy consumption is to be made possible, it would require a reduction in cycle times without compromising product quality.

Teams at Dormer Pramet, part of the Sandvik Group, have successfully reduced the cycle time of their sintering process by almost 100 minutes. To achieve this reduction, Dormer Pramet engineers worked in close collaboration with research and development specialists from Sandvik Materials Technology (SMT) in Pune, India to redesign the gas flow passing through the charge of the sintering furnaces.

Coating

When machining ferrous materials such as cast iron or stainless steel, a coated insert is the favoured tool of choice. CVD coating involves placing tools into a chamber, which is pumped with gases at 950-1100 deg C. These gases react inside the heated chamber, depositing a thin layer onto each tool that reinforces its strength.

High temperatures are key to effective CVD coating, but maintaining them is an energy intensive process. How do we keep heat inside a building? We insulate it. To prevent heat from escaping CVD coating chambers, Dormer Pramet added new insulation onto the furnace’s coating. Trapping heat inside the chamber has shortened the cycle times of CVD reactors, and is estimated to lower emissions by 25 tonnes every year.

Combined, these two actions are calculated to not only reduce annual emissions by around 40 tonnes, but also save around 230,000 euros every year. Sustainable action will always focus on environmental improvement, but by implementing simple changes, manufacturers may also enjoy the business benefits that process evaluation can bring.

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UK Manufacturers Positioned To Lead The Green Revolution

UK Manufacturers Positioned To Lead The Green Revolution

A new report, published by the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), has found that if the UK moves towards Green manufacturing, we could see between £8–20 billion added to the UK’s GDP and 400,000 to 1 million jobs created.

Climate change is having a huge impact on the world we live in and the calls to tackle it are growing louder every day.

The MTA report highlights that the UK is well placed to lead the way in this green future, if we act now. Since the early 1990s, the UK has reduced carbon emissions by 44 percent and is the first country to commit to net zero emissions.

“Going green is not an option, it a necessity. The UK has a worldwide reputation for innovation within manufacturing and engineering. This report highlights the need to invest to make to the essential transition to a decarbonised economy,” said James Selka, CEO of MTA. “By embracing green technology, we can transform our economy as a whole and work towards sustainable growth, creating new, higher paid, jobs and protect the environment in the process.”

The Commission on Climate Change which underpinned the net-zero target estimated that an increase in investment in Green technologies in the order of 1 to 2 percent of GDP per year up to 2050 was needed.

Green growth is an important economic driver – growing around four times faster than the overall economy. Starting early gives companies the best chance of staying ahead and diversifying into future products and markets.

Green transition involves decarbonising processes and products all along the supply chain, as well as reducing the carbon that products require in use.

Transformation that is investment-led both boosts GDP directly and adds to productive capacity.

The effect on GDP stands to be large, adding some £8bn to £20bn in output to UK manufacturing and its supply chains. The effect on jobs also stands to be substantial:

  • Creating some 400,000 to 1 million jobs in the economy as a whole;
  • Some 37,000 to 90,000 jobs in UK manufacturing, and
  • A further 34,000 to 83,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Moreover, the report shows that new jobs stand to be of high-quality, well paid, and fit for the 21st century.

Selka added, “We have seen through the Covid-19 pandemic that when Government engages with manufacturers that change can be implemented quickly. With strong national guidance and the right structure put in place by the UK Government and fully integrated into an Industrial Strategy, we are well placed to become world leaders in Green manufacturing.  We need continued investment in resources like the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to spur progress. The possibilities for growth are substantial. UK manufacturers are ready for this challenge.”

 

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Making The Industry More Sustainable With The Circular Economy

Making the Industry More Sustainable with the Circular Economy

Mats W. Lundberg, Sustainable Business Manager at Sandvik Materials Technology (SMT), evaluates the circular approach in the metalworking industry.

How old is your mobile phone? If you’re thinking about your current device, it’s likely that you change it every couple of years following the release of a fancy new upgrade.

In reality, mobile telephones as old as the brick-like, antennae inventions of the 1980s probably remain in landfills. With many of our planet’s environmental issues linked to human consumption, it’s time to rethink our ‘take-make-dispose’ economy.

READ: Achieving Sustainability In Manufacturing

Technology moves fast—even at the time of a new product launch, the next big thing is probably already in the pipeline. As a result, we’re creating mountains of obsolete devices that can take centuries before they begin to break down. Glass alone has no measurable decomposition period, meaning it can take over a million years before it degrades. The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that 50 million tons of electronic waste is produced each year, which if left unchecked could rise to more than double by 2050.

But it’s not just digital devices that are creating a backlog of waste. As urbanisation, industrialisation and population increase around the world, the amount of waste we generate continues to rise. But what if this didn’t have to be the case?

Going Full Circle

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is “based on the principals of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.” By employing reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling methods to create a close-loop system, circular systems minimise the use of new materials and keep products equipment and infrastructure in use for longer.

A circular economy covers a broad scope of areas including every industry sector, resources such as metals and minerals as well as biological resources like food and fibres. It requires a complete overhaul of product management. Instead of focusing on driving more volume, companies are rethinking products and services from the bottom up to future proof their operations across the entire supply chain.

READ: Sandvik And Renishaw Collaborate To Qualify New AM Materials

The foundation predicts that implementing the circular economy has the potential to deliver a 48 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and material cost saving of as high as 700 million US dollars per year in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) segment.

Since 1862, circularity has been a part of what we do at SMT — although that’s not what we called the process back then. At the time, it was more of a question of resource efficiency, as we would re-melt leftover scrap material during production. We still apply this ethos today, but the process has been fine-tuned and our products consist of 84 percent recycled material on average.

More Than Sustainability

But circularity doesn’t only benefit businesses from a sustainability perspective. With the introduction of any new process, advantages are often rendered useless if they do not also satisfy the needs of the business. A circular economy is capable of addressing both global sustainability challenges while achieving business value by taking care of an issue that no customer is ever thrilled to deal with—waste.

READ: Sandvik Coromant Uses AM To Create Lightweight Milling Cutter

Overseeing the entire lifecycle of a product gives the business greater control of their assets. This control means that the company can effectively review its costs, while also improving spending for their customers who will benefit from selling used products, helping the business create better and longer lasting relationships with customers. By recognising that a circular economy extends business value, those across the supply chain are able to understand the value of the model.

Making the Shift

Circularity is nothing new for Sandvik Machining Solutions (SMS), as Lars Ederström, Project Lead for Sustainability and Governance at SMS, explains, the business model and a buy-back program has been in play since the 1990s.

“In 2006, Sandvik Coromant launched a customer buy-back program that allowed customers to return their used products so that we could recycle them and reclaim key materials such as tungsten and other rare precious metals,” says Ederström.

The program has since increased in volume and it is now a valuable process for SMS’s customers and its operations.

READ: Laser-Engraved Metal To Reduce Environmental Impact

“Our customers appreciate that we manage this end-of-life process for them,” Ederström says. “In addition to lightening the burden of managing used products, we are also helping our customers contribute to the circular system and make a real difference to the sustainability of our industry.”

Our goal at Sandvik Group is to become more than 90 percent circular by 2030. To achieve this, we’ve recognised a number of areas where we can improve our material management, including recycling steel and cemented carbide as part of a comprehensive buying back program. Achieving this goal will be tough, even for us seasoned circularity veterans, but we’re ready to evolve a process that has been part of our DNA for the past 158 years.

SMS will also be placing stricter demands on its suppliers of raw materials and packaging, requiring them to increase their use of secondary and recycled materials. This will help ensure that not only the division’s own products contribute to the circular economy, but the materials it purchases will also be based increasingly on used materials.

It’s time to make the shift. A circular economy will not only help businesses achieve sustainability goals and make a real difference to our planet’s emission levels, but switching from a linear way of working will also help achieve real business value. Making the mot of used products ultimately creates a whole new level to the supply chain and, who knows, maybe even our retro Nokia mobile phones could make their way back into the cycle.

 

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Laser-Engraved Metal To Reduce Environmental Impact

Laser-Engraved Metal To Reduce Environmental Impact

Anti-fouling, ‘hydrophobic’ metal or plastic surfaces that imitate shark skins, engraved by a new laser technology being developed by European scientists, could soon replace the toxic varnishes used in ship coatings to stop algae or barnacles sticking to hulls – reducing maintenance costs, fuel bills and CO2 emissions.

Harnessing new photonics technology, a group of European scientists are currently developing a 1kw, ‘dot matrix’ ultrafast laser system that can carve flow-optimised metal or plastic surfaces capable of imitating the incredibly efficient skin from sharks.

Etching tiny ‘spike’ structures onto sheet metal or plastic, the new laser system can create a rough surface at a microscopic level. This uneven topography can create a reduction in drag or inhibit the growth of bacteria, algae or even barnacles.

Shark’s flesh, covered in millions of microscopic denticles – or tiny protruding scales – reduces drag to make it a highly efficient swimmer.

Similarly, engraved metal or plastic surfaces can have ‘anti-fouling’ properties that prevent contaminants or microorganisms from clinging on.

Funded by the Photonics PPP, the scientists behind the €4.7 million laser project hope that specially-designed structures on steel ship hulls could help to reduce fuel consumption and replace toxic ship paints and varnishes that are harmful to the environment.

Dr Johannes Finger, coordinator of the MultiFlex project, said: “Laser-fabricated surface structures have the potential to reduce friction and to prevent the growth of plants and algae. This could significantly reduce ship repair, maintenance, CO2 emissions and fuel bills while providing an alternative to harmful coatings that are toxic to the environment.”

“Besides maritime components, application fields can be found in aircraft and turbomachinery. Here, surface structures might inhibit cavitation and thus improve lifetimes of propellers of propulsion systems or water turbines.

“Our photonics system can also create design textures or ‘microcavities’. Here the environment benefits by replacing environmental problematic technologies like chemical etching,” said Dr Finger.

Ultrashort Pulsed (USP) or ‘Ultrafast’ lasers can ablate any material without damaging it. Surfaces cut with a USP are smooth, on a micron-scale and ideal for many industries where hard materials need to be processed with the highest precision.

 

Dot Matrix Laser

Developed by the MultiFlex project, the material is structured by the world’s first ‘dot matrix’ laser.

In the same way that an old-fashioned dot matrix printer uses a moving head, printing in a line by line motion, the laser sends super-fast pulses of concentrated energy to ablate – or cut – materials that are notoriously difficult to work with.

Resembling a giant chessboard, the system splits a single beam into a grid of 64 ‘beamlets’, where every single ray can be turned on, off, positioned, and individually ‘tuned’.

“Existing ultrafast lasers are known for their precise ablation and cutting results. Unfortunately, processing large parts with such lasers can take weeks. Our system will ablate more than 150 mm³ in one minute, therefore making it hundreds of times faster than existing technologies,” said Dr Finger.

 

Wider Applications

While the laser represents an exciting breakthrough in surface technology, the ultrafast laser has several wider applications:

Tool and Mould Manufacturing – With increased throughput, MultiFlex is making many USP mould and tool making applications, such as fabricating venting holes or microcavities, and making textures on free-form surfaces more cost-efficient. Tool and mould application is the first field where the technology will be validated.

Automotive – By delivering high throughput for USP surface processing technology, MultiFlex is tackling the micro-structuring applications for interior lighting, instrument clusters and aesthetic and haptic structures.

Electronics – Increasing the spread of ultrafast processing in electronics will improve the performance and reliability of sophisticated high-performance electronic components. Ultrafast laser-based fabrication of via holes and technical ceramics for high-performance electronics will be significantly improved.

Printing and Embossing – With a more economical and rapid production line, the MultiFlex system has the potential to significantly increase electronics printing, precise embossing of microstructures and the fabrication efficiency for high precision tools.

The consortium consists of the research institute Fraunhofer ILT and the Chair for Technology of Optical Systems of RWTH Aachen University from Germany as well as Amplitude Systèmes, LASEA France, AA OptoElectronic from France and LASEA from Belgium as industrial research and development partners.

The three-year MultiFlex project is supported by the European Commission within the framework of the ICT-04-2018 program and has received a grant of € 4.7 million via the Photonics Public Private Partnership.

 

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FTI Releases FormingSuite 2019 Feature Pack 1 For Sheet Metal Applications

FTI Releases FormingSuite 2019 Feature Pack 1 For Sheet Metal Applications

Forming Technologies (FTI) has announced the release of the FormingSuite 2019 Feature Pack 1. Designed for sheet metal cost estimators, design engineers, tooling designers, and advanced planning engineers in the automotive, aerospace, consumer product and electronics industries, this feature pack introduces numerous enhancements that ensure the best quality results and performance for all users.

Overall changes to the software’s workbenches and processes allow for Material Utilisation (MUL) and Design for Manufacturability (DFM) concepts to fully be realised. These concepts help customers reduce material waste through virtual tryouts replacing test stampings and addressing formability issues that could threaten the integrity of a part long before the part makes it to the shop floor. New blanking processes in the software allow parts to be nested and created faster, and with much less waste than before, by considering multiple factors in the stamping process. Changes to pilot holes and addendum features integrate real world solutions into the digital process, allowing for increased accuracy, and robust parts and operations.

With this latest release, FormingSuite’s ProcessPlanner module continues to add support for the most specialised processes in sheet metal forming.  The Line Die Plan workbench now allows users to detail the process for blanking in multiple operations (for both online and offline blanking). This new capability improves the visual description of the blanking process as well as the die load, die cost, die size and die weight calculations.  New options for the calculation of cam costs increase flexibility and provide more precise estimates for custom and standard cams for progressive dies and line dies.  Rounding out the changes to this workbench, a new display option in the ProgDie Process summary display shows the die size along with the process layout.

The COSTOPTIMISER module now boasts substantial improvements in nesting solver speed as well as two new display options to show carrier condition and the 3D part along with the layout.  Cost Optimisation of nesting layouts now allows users to choose if the part is cropped while maintaining the addendum offset, or if the addendum is cut without affecting the part. This change gives users the tools needed to effectively evaluate material cost savings opportunities on parts formed with addendum. Extending upon FormingSuite’s unique capabilities for introducing and evaluating web and carrier geometry, the pilot hole tool now provides the option of adding material around pilot holes as is common in real world strip designs. This allows engineers to ensure the integrity of their strip layouts in the software and on the shop floor.

Finally, significant updates have been made to trimming in FastIncremental. Automatic mesh refinement during trimming ensures that results of trim operations are precise. Automatic trimming now provides quicker solutions and more accurate results.

“We’re very excited to be announcing our latest release around HxGN LIVE with the focus being on data driven sustainability this year.” Says FTI’s CEO and President Michael Gallagher. “One of the main tenets of our software is to maximise Material Utilisation, which not only saves our customers millions of dollars, but uses data to reduce waste and make the stamping process more sustainable.”

 

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Achieving Sustainability In Manufacturing

Achieving Sustainability In Manufacturing

The hype of the manufacturing world in recent years is centred on sustainability—of practices, of technology or of waste disposal—for a better future. But what exactly does ‘sustainable manufacturing’ mean, and how can a manufacturer achieve or engage in it? By Michelle Cheong

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