Hybrid Forming - A Novel Manufacturing Technique for Metal-LFT Structural Parts 2020-01-0235
Hybrid structural parts combining aluminum or steel sheets with long glass fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) offer a great opportunity to reduce component weight for automotive applications. But due to high manufacturing cost, metal-LFT hybrid components are still scarcely used in automotive large-scale production. Thus in this work a novel cost- and time efficient manufacturing process for simultaneous metal sheet forming and compression molding of long fiber reinforced thermoplastics to manufacture automotive lightweight components is presented. In this manufacturing process, which is referred to as “Hybrid forming”, a fiber reinforced thermoplastic melt is used as a forming medium in the manner of well-known hydroforming processes. After forming the metal sheet by polymer melt in combination with the rigid die, the melt solidifies and forms a local reinforcement structure in the hybrid component. Since the metal sheet is pre-coated with a bonding agent prior to the forming process, a firmly bonded connection between metal and LFT can be achieved.
For proof of concept a longitudinal control arm in a multi-link rear axle is chosen. By utilizing Hybrid forming a hybrid steel-LFT control arm is manufactured with weight savings of 20 % with regard to the metal reference component. Weight savings are derived by reducing the metal thickness and compensate stiffness and strength with local load-conforming LFT ribs. The metal part of the hybrid control arm guaranties the same positive fail-safe behavior of a metal component in contrast to the brittle failure mechanics of pure CFRP/GFRP components.
To verify the resilience of the hybrid component and especially the bonding surface between steel and LFT quasi-static tests and fatigue tests were conducted. The results are compared with the FE-simulations to validate the simulation technique, which can be used to design metal-LFT structural parts manufactured by hybrid forming for future applications.