Autumn 2020

Editor's note

More materials and

digital progress

It’s been suggested that the work content in assembling an electric vehicle is lower than that for an ICE powered model, but this doesn’t mean these vehicles are less complex in the sum of their parts. For instance, looking at vehicle bodies and chassis, there are a wide range of materials now being used, and by extension different forming and joining processes. Although steel still dominates the material make-up of most high-volume vehicle architectures, the mix of materials is increasing as OEMs seek to reduce weight and adopt differing approaches to the structures, with body-on-frame now making something of a return to favour in the form of the EV ‘skateboard’ chassis. Another example of this is in the construction of the battery trays. We’ve seen a variety of materials being used to create these enclosures (steel, aluminium, composites) but they pose an engineering challenge in needing to house and protect the cells while creating a suitable environment for optimum battery performance.


Aluminium has long been seen as a valuable material reducing vehicle weight and many of the issues with forming and joining that had historically restricted its use in higher volume production have now been resolved through equipment and material developments. Speaking with welding and press line suppliers for this issue, they noted there has been an increase in demand for equipment suited to forming and joining aluminium, particularly from tier suppliers working to produce parts for EVs. 


We are also seeing that manufacturers are mitigating production complexity in all areas by increasingly digitalising processes. This trend continues to grow and offers greater visibility and refinement of operations, such as welding, and as well as improving the efficiency of automated processes, it is also going a long way in supporting manual operations. A good example of this is the use of 3D printing in development and production processes, the latter seeing real progress. Audi’s approach has been to co-develop software that enables workers to design and print tooling for assembly jobs without the need for prior experience in programming additive equipment. 


The wave of electrified vehicle production and the huge challenges posed by Covid-19 this year have made the need to improve the efficiency and flexibility of vehicle production paramount, and digitalisation would seem to offer the key by offering greater visibility of the process and by simplifying operations.


Dynamic Flow laser blanking video courtesy of Schuler

Editor Nick Holt nick.holt@ultimamedia.com

Deputy editor Gareth Price gareth.price@ultimamedia.com

Editor-in-chief Christopher Ludwig christopher.ludwig@ultimamedia.com

Contributors Mark Dickin, Chuck Hagyard

Publisher and sales Andrew Fallon andrew.fallon@ultimamedia.com

Design director Matt Crane matt.crane@ultimamedia.com 

Senior designer Steven Singh Bains steven.bains@ultimamedia.com

Digital designer Hannah Lindsay hannah.lindsay@ultimamedia.com

Head of audience and marketing Chris Mott chris.mott@ultimamedia.com

Circulation and database Justyna Wanczyk justyna.wanczyk@ ultimamedia.com

Office manager and sales support Jo Fordrey jo.fordrey@ultimamedia.com

Head of finance Kanokkan Durrant kanokkan.durrant@ultimamedia.com

Managing director Gavin Miller gavin.miller@ultimamedia.com 

Editor Nick Holt nick.holt@ultimamedia.com

Editor-in-chief Christopher Ludwig christopher.ludwig@ultimamedia.com

Publisher and sales Andrew Fallon andrew.fallon@ultimamedia.com

Senior designer Steven Singh Bains steven.bains@ultimamedia.com

Digital designer Hannah Lindsay hannah.lindsay@ultimamedia.com

Circulation and database Justyna Wanczyk justyna.wanczyk@ ultimamedia.com

Head of finance Kanokkan Durrant kanokkan.durrant@ultimamedia.com

Managing director Gavin Miller gavin.miller@ultimamedia.com 

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