Metal 3D printing: technology of the future for lighter and more compact engines
A team of Renault Trucks engineers and designers is working on an additive manufacturing process – metal 3D printing – that is set to boost the performance of engines. Technology of the future is fast becoming a reality, as can be seen from the complex parts that have already been successfully tested inside a Euro 6 engine.
The Renault Trucks Lyon Powertrain Engineering department has focused on using metal additive manufacturing as a future engine manufacturing process. A prototype DTI 5 4- cylinder Euro 6 step C engine has been designed exclusively using 3D printing.
Although the complete engine was already designed virtually, rocker arms and camshaft bearing caps were manufactured by metal 3D printing and successfully bench-tested for 600 hours inside a Euro 6 engine. "The aim of this project is to demonstrate the positive impact of metal additive manufacturing on the size and weight of an engine. This process has enabled us to reduce the weight of a 4-cylinder engine by 120 kg or 25%", explained Damien Lemasson, project manager at Renault Trucks. "The tests we have carried out prove the durability of engine components made using 3D printing. It's not just cosmetic."
Metal additive manufacturing opens up new development opportunities for thermal engines. This printing process, which works by adding materials layer after layer, can be used to create complex organic forms, as well as optimizing the sizing of parts and reducing the number of assembly operations and therefore the number of components in an engine. "Additive manufacturing releases us from constraints and unlocks the creativity of engineers. This procedure is a source of disruptive technology for the engines of tomorrow, which will be lighter and more functional, thereby offering optimal performance," Damien Lemasson added. The number of components in the DTI 5 engine has been reduced by 25%, making a total of 200 fewer parts.
For haulage companies, metal 3D printing carries a number of advantages. They will be able to optimize the overall operating costs of their fleet of vehicles, as a reduction in engine volume will lead to greater payloads and lower fuel consumption.
In the short-term, this manufacturing procedure can be used for highly specific applications or small runs. Following on from these successful initial tests, engineers at Renault Trucks will be continuing their work on this manufacturing process to further increase the performance and functionality of truck components.
Renault Trucks metal 3D printing: video
Pictures 01 and 02 : On the left,the starting point, the Renault Trucks DTI5 Euro 6 engine, 841 parts.
On the right, the same engine exclusively designed using 3D metal printing to reduce weight ans number of components.
Picture 03 : On top, a Renault Trucks Euro 6 DTI5 rocker arm ; above, a rocker arm manufactured by 3D printing on a bench test inside a Euro 6 engine.