Jan 11, 2017 | By Tess

French truck and military vehicle manufacturer Renault Trucks is reportedly working on developing a metal 3D printing process that will help to boost engine performance. Additive manufacturing is expected to help make engines more compact and lightweight and thus more efficient. According to a recent press release, the Renault Trucks Lyon Powertrain Engineering Department has already prototyped a DTI 5 4-cylinder Euro 6 step C engine using only 3D printing technology.

As we’ve seen within the automotive industry already, metal 3D printing has offered unprecedented design freedom, meaning that parts with complex structures and shapes can be manufactured with relative ease. For designing and manufacturing thermal engines, this facet of 3D printing is also beneficial, especially as it allows for a reduction of the overall number of parts that go into the engine structure. So far, 3D printing has helped engineers to reduce the number of parts in the DTI 5 engine by a whopping 25% (the equivalent of 200 parts).

“Additive manufacturing releases us from constraints and unlocks the creativity of engineers,” commented Damien Lemasson, project manager at Renault Trucks. “This procedure is a source of disruptive technology for the engines of tomorrow, which will be lighter and more functional, thereby offering optimal performance.”

For the Euro 6 engine, a team of Renault Trucks engineers not only virtually designed the whole engine, but were able to 3D print the rocker arms and camshaft bearing caps. The additively manufactured parts were then bench-tested for 600 hours inside the engine, which proved to be a success. As Lemasson points out, “The tests we have carried out prove the durability of engine components made using 3D printing. It's not just cosmetic.”

Not just cosmetic indeed, as the engineers managed to reduce the weight of the four-cylinder engine by about 120 kg, a reduction of 25% off its overall weight. Evidently, additive manufacturing has a lot to offer the truck manufacturing industry. The advantages of 3D printing an engine also extend beyond the manufacturing side of things, as haulage companies will also reap the benefits of having a fleet with lighter, more compact engines. As one can imagine, reduced engine size and weight results in larger payloads and overall lower fuel consumption (i.e. lower costs).

According to Renault Trucks, its metal additive manufacturing technology will primarily be used for manufacturing parts for specific applications in small-run batches. Further down the line, the company hopes to extend its 3D printing to help increase the functionality and performance of truck parts on a larger scale.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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