Wheels: -29%. Differential: -14%. Diesel pump housing: -18%. Nuts: 6 g each.
At Hannover Messe, the Lightweight Forging Initiative, a primarily German consortium of forging companies and steel producers, has been trumpeting an impressive list of weight-saving measures for automotive parts which could result in a total reduction of 99 kg (PDF).
Two years ago, the Lightweight Forging Initiative dismantled a passenger car and announced that 42 kg could be saved. This time, it did the same with a van, disassembling it, listing and analyzing all parts and, through workshops with experts, formulating lightweight design ideas.
Lighter Powertrain and Chassis
Given the focus of the consortium members, it was decided to focus on the chassis and powertrain rather than on the vehicle body or the electronics. At 845 kg, these elements constitute 36% of the vehicle’s weight, already a hefty bit to chew on.
And chew they did, as the team of engineers and researchers developed lightweight design proposals for each part, with novel solutions at almost every turn:
Removal of unnecessary material and use of lighter forged parts for the diesel pump housing and cover;
for the gearwheel of the output shaft, producing holes on pitch circles and creating a thinner fixed member with a wave profile;
a new design and use of a bainitic steel for nuts
Even the lead researchers were surprised by the weight savings possible in very small parts, as they explained to DirectIndustry e-magazine during Hannover Messe.