IMfT Winter Meeting 2004 - 29 January 2004 at the School of MMMEM, University of Nottingham
Dr. Peter Standring, Mei-Yi Song, Jonathan Craven & Peter Holland – University of Nottingham
The Workshop theme was selected because:
i). the automotive industry is the largest sector user of metalformed components
ii). the mix of metalformed products both bulk and sheet together with methods of joining them represent a fair cross section of existing metalforming processes.
iii). the continuing rationalisation of the vehicle manufacturer’s and their tier one supply base is having a significant impact on those who supply tier ones
iv). changes in the pattern of global investment is having a dramatic short/medium effect on all automotive suppliers not least the prospects for local suppliers
In the session Peter Standring gave a perspective of the currents and eddys resulting from the on-going redistribution of vehicle market share and prospective growth of new markets.
This was followed by a Mei-Yi Song (Winnie) who presented a review of the China Automotive Market. Winnie is a PhD student at Nottingham who is currently studying the development of e Business in the Chinese Automotive Sector. Her presentation gave an account of what is taking place in China obtained from internal Chinese sources and English language publications. The fascinating aspects of Winnie’s findings was the apparently ‘huge’ discrepancies between the automotive industry targets set by the Chinese government and the reality on the ground.
Jonathan Craven has spent nine years in a number of fastener companies working on cold forming technologies. In his presentation he gave an update on how the various fastening methods are being used to help vehicle manufacturers develop more distinctive (customer desirable) and profitable models. Attendees were given a copy of a chart (attached) comparing various fastening methods.
Metalforming Work at Nottingham
Beginning the session, Peter Holland gave a run through of work, he has spent three years developing to automatically identify ‘features’ from a CAD file. As a first stage, all CAD files, irrespective of the native format, are translated into STEP files (neutral file format). This means the system can handle any input data from whenever source provided it can be translated. The STEP output data is a text file possibly hundreds of pages A4 long listing all the planes, surfaces, boundaries (edges) of each surface., what they are adjacent to, parallel with etc.. Peter described his ‘generic’ methodology for tackling the problem. The resulting structure provides a complex “signature” of each feature, sub feature and/or sub sub feature which a component might include without, as Peter explained, it ever being necessary to see the product. This information can help identify the tools needed to produce the part and/or give a designer the opportunity to modify the design for ease of manufacture.
Body in White Structural Developments
Peter Standring briefly reviewed three recent activities which have been carried out to develop methods of improving BIW construction. The first considered the Ultra Light Weight Steel Automotive Body – Advanced Vehicles Concepts (ULSAB – AVC) which was reported in 2002 (www.ulsab-avc.org). This programme was initiated in the 1990’s by 27 global steel makers collaborating to develop and present the benefits of lighter, stronger steels. Porsche Engineering did the product design work and Schuler with others produced the prototype tooling/parts for vehicle assembly. The scale and cost of the work truly reflected the stimulus to make changes given to steel manufacturers by the take up of aluminium for vehicle manufacturer. The second development was the ThyssenKrupp New Steel Body revealed in 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Sixty engineers had worked full time for two years to produce the vehicle concept. Although TK were members of the ULSAB consortium their further development of the ideas as a market for the future well indicated their automotive focus.
The third activity was a development by Lotus Engineering to produce a “flexible” body, which could be modified to suit a number of vehicle options (see Materials World Dec 2003). Peter told the meeting that Nottingham were currently working with Ford to help develop parts for a new cabriolet based on a Focus platform.
Additionally, Nottingham were extending their thinking much further out to consider a novel method of metalforming body construction which it was believed might meet the long term requirements for low cost vehicle BIW manufacture, beyond the ULSAB, TK and Lotus concepts.