Lightweight Forging Initiative
1,917 ideas and 358 kg of potential
Making heavy things lighter is something that drives us onward every day. This is especially true of high-strength steels for the automotive industry. Working together with numerous project partners, we have discovered, in the "Lightweight Forging Initiative", enormous potential for weight reduction – an important stride into the future.
Reducing the weight of vehicles is one of the most significant challenges for future mobility. If forged parts and other components are made lighter, this reduction in their weight makes an important contribution to cutting CO2 emissions.
In a supra-industry cooperation between manufacturers and component suppliers, the lightweighting potential for cars and commercial vehicles is firstly determined along the entire process chain for the power trains and chassis/suspension of vehicles. The results of the "Lightweight Forging Initiative", collated phase-by-phase over five years, demonstrate that vehicle weights can be significantly reduced using steel.
Less weight, more efficiency:
- Lower CO2 emissions
- Less fuel consumption
- Better use of resources
- Higher potential payloads
Phase I: Lightweighting for cars
Analysis of 3,500 parts from the power train, chassis/suspension and other components by 65 experts from thirty companies and research corporations provided the following result: for the reference vehicle studied - a car with a total weight of 1,740 kg - 399 lightweighting ideas, with a savings potential of 42 kg, have been developed. It would be possible to realise around a third of these by means of alternative materials, and a major portion of the lightweighting potential can be found in optimisation of forged components.
Phase II: Lightweighting commercial vehicles
When seventeen forming companies, ten steel producers and an engineering service-provider take a very close look at vehicle parts and here, in particular, at new materials in the power train and chassis/suspension, this is the outcome: 535 lightweight construction ideas, using which 99 kg can be saved in a lightweight commercial vehicle. At the design stage, via materials, in production or using new concepts: much diverse potential is waiting in engines, gearboxes, the extended power train and the chassis/suspension, and can be exploited thanks to the diversity of high-strength steels.
Phase III: Hybrid cars and trucks
In a third phase (Lightweight Forging III), thirty-nine cooperation partners analysed the chassis/suspension, power train and gearbox of a hybrid car and a heavy goods vehicle (HGV). The results that followed the workshop held in late January 2018 demonstrate impressively what is possible using steel and forging. Dr. Hans-Willi Raedt and Dr. Thomas Wurm of Georgsmarienhütte GmbH, spokesmen for the Initiative, were able to present a total of 983 ideas. These reduce the weight of the hybridised all-wheel-drive SUV by 93 kg, and that of the heavy goods truck by as much as 124 kg.
Lightweight Forging Initiative: Conclusions
Whether it's new steel materials, parts design or production methods, there is also enormous lightweighting potential in the power train of cars and trucks. Very soon, the engines, gearboxes and wheel bearings could become even lighter, with maximum service-life for the forged steel parts and components at the same time. Now it's the turn of the developers, purchasers and designers.
"The Initiative aims to promote interchange on lightweighting along the entire supply chain of steel production, forging and component manufacturing, up to and including actual use in vehicles, and to bring new lightweighting solutions into use on the basis of forging", explains Dr. Hans-Willi Raedt, Initiative spokesman for the forging companies.
You can find further information on the subject of lightweight engineering in the article published in the technical journal ATZ, issue No. 4/2019.