Ford | Experiments With Stratasys 3D Printer
Ford has started work on exploring how large one-piece auto parts, like car spoilers, could be 3D-printed for prototyping and future production. Using the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer at its Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, in the US, Ford is experimenting with 3D printing processes, although these may not yet be fully ready for mainstream, mass-market adoption in the automotive industry.
Capable of printing car parts of practically any shape or length, the Stratasys Infinite Build system might represent a breakthrough for vehicle manufacturing, providing a more efficient and affordable way to produce tooling, prototype parts, or components at low volumes. As 3D printing becomes more efficient and affordable, companies are employing this emerging technology for manufacturing applications in various verticals and the global market for 3D printing is expected to reach $9.6 billion by the year 2020.
3D printing could have immense benefits for automotive production, including the ability to produce lighter-weight parts, which may help improve fuel efficiency. A 3D-printed spoiler, for instance, may weigh less than half of its metal-cast equivalent. Though 3D printing isn't yet fast enough for high-volume production manufacturing, it is a more cost-efficient way to produce parts only needed at low volumes, like prototypes and specialised parts for racing cars. In addition, when not limited by the constraints of mass production processes, components can be designed to function more efficiently.
Ellen Lee, Ford technical leader for additive manufacturing research, said that with 3D printing technology, Ford will be able to print large tools, fixtures and components, and be more nimble with design iterations. Lee said that Stratasys' new technology could help steer the development of large scale 3D printing for automotive applications and requirements in a big way, in the near future.
MSIL | Releases Road Safety Index For Eight Cities
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) has released a Road Safety Index report for eight cities in India – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. This Road Safety Index is a weighted average of scores on various parameters related to road safety, including factors like motor laws and traffic control, pedestrian safety and emergency services.
The Road Safety Index has been compiled on the basis of citizen views and ground-level surveys, and is a part of India Road Safety Mission (IRSM), which is a nation-wide initiative undertaken by MSIL. The objective of the report is to lay down parameters which can become guidelines for Government institutions, NGOs and corporates, to improve road safety in cities covered in the study.
IRSM aims to create awareness among citizens about road safety, and in its fourth year, intends to bring together policy makers, city authorities, road safety experts and citizens on one common platform. However, this is the first time the campaign has introduced a comprehensive Road Safety Index through which best performing cities have been awarded.
The eight cities selected for the campaign were identified based on population, metro status, and state-wide coverage, with the study being conducted over a period of three months. It considers feedback from 6,000 people representing the population in these cities, with 15 prominent locations including malls, bus stops, petrol pumps and tourist spots identified for the survey.
Each city was rated against 11 important parameters impacting road safety, following which the report identifies best performing cities in these categories while bringing out the gaps that need attention. The categories included pedestrian rights, road lighting and maintenance, motor laws and traffic control, emergency services, road cleanliness, connectivity, road infrastructure, road safety, differently-abled friendly; road quality and pollution control. R S Kalsi, Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, MSIL, said that the company is optimistic that the index will serve as a reference point for stakeholders to identify and work in a systematic manner to improve road safety in their respective cities.
Supreme Court | Bans Sales Of BS-III Vehicles
With the Supreme Court's recent announcement banning the sales of BS-III vehicles from April 1, the automotive industry has been thrown into a state of flux. According to data made available by SIAM, auto companies are still holding stocks of about 8.24 lakh units of BS-III vehicles (including close to one lakh commercial vehicles, around 17,000 cars and SUVs, more than six lakh two-wheelers and around 40,000 three-wheelers), which are together valued at Rs 12,000 crore – a massive loss for the Indian automotive industry.
The Supreme Court's stand is that "The health of the people is far, far more important than the commercial interests of manufacturers or the loss that they are likely to suffer." Stock prices of many auto companies took a hit soon after the Supreme Court announcement, with share prices of Hero MotoCorp, Ashok Leyland, Bharat Forge, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki declining by 0.5-3.15 %.
"Auto industry has been ready with BS4 manufacturing since 2010. However, the sale of BS4 vehicles was not possible, nationwide, due to lack of BS4 fuel. Running a BS4 vehicle with BS3 fuel can cause severe problems to some vehicles," says a statement issued by SIAM. "Auto Industry is law abiding and is in full compliance with the emission norms set by the Government, [however], while no one pushed for BS4 fuel availability for seven years, to change over faster, this sudden decision – just a few days before the changeover – is rather unfortunate, as it causes undue stress on the entire industry, and causes loss of jobs. Auto Industry, anywhere in the world, requires a stable and predictable policy which allows for long term planning and investments," said Vinod K. Dasari, President, SIAM.
"The Supreme Court decision will result in difficulties for the entire automotive value chain, on top of cost increases to comply with BS-IV vehicle production and GST implementation," said Rakesh Batra, Partner and automotive sector leader at EY. "This industry works globally on 20-30 days inventory within the distribution channel and this should have been considered as part of the transition plan when migrating from BS-III to BS-IV. Unfortunately a last-minute decision does not help any of the industry stakeholders or consumers, in the month of March, when volumes are higher due to year-end purchases and deals," he added.
Renault-Nissan | Forms LCV Business Unit
The Renault-Nissan alliance has announced that it is forming a light commercial vehicle (LCV) business unit to expand its global presence in this segment. This move is expected to expand the group's LCV market leadership under a single business unit and boost sales by leveraging on Renault's van expertise and Nissan's truck know-how in key markets. The company has appointed Ashwani Gupta as Senior Vice President of the Renault-Nissan LCV Business Unit, effective 1 April, 2017.
The LCV alliance partners will create more synergies by having one business unit, while ensuring brand differentiation, maximising cross-development and cross-manufacturing, technology sharing and cost reduction. In the spirit of the alliance, partners will leverage complementary markets and products while maintaining their own brand identity, sales and revenue. The new Renault-Nissan LCV business unit will also handle Nissan's body-on-frame SUVs, including the Nissan Armada and Nissan Patrol. Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault-Nissan Alliance, said that the Renault-Nissan alliance and collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors into a single LCV business unit will boost sales and deliver greater synergies within the group.
Magna | Carbonfibre Subframe For Lightweighting
Magna International Inc has developed a prototype carbonfibre composite subframe in cooperation with Ford, with which it claims to reduce mass by 34 % when compared to a stamped steel equivalent. According to Magna, this collaborative R&D project was carried out with the aim to lower vehicle weight to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. The concept design also leads to 87 % reduction in the number of parts, noted Magna, adding that the reduction in the number of parts results from the replacement of 45 steel parts with two moulded and four metallic parts, with the mouldings being joined with adhesives and structural rivets.
The carbonfibre subframe project's other aim was to investigate potential mass-reduction benefits and technical challenges of using carbonfibre-reinforced composites in chassis applications. In fact, the design has passed all performance requirements based on CAE analyses, and prototype subframes are now being produced by Magna for component and vehicle-level testing, which will be handled by Ford. The testing phase will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention, which are not currently measured by CAE. The project team will ultimately develop a recommended design, manufacturing and assembly process, with the experience gained during the prototype build and subsequent testing.
Collaboration is key to success in designing lightweight components that can give fuel economy improvements without compromising ride and handling, durability or safety, noted Mike Whitens, Director, Vehicle Enterprise Systems, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. He said that Magna and Ford working together on this carbonfibre composite subframe is a great example of collaboration on advanced materials between an OEM and a key supplier.