Design and Fabrication of an Aluminum Engine Cradle for a General Motors Vehicle
Automotive manufacturers have intensified their efforts to increase vehicle fuel economy by reducing weight without sacrificing vehicle size and comfort. Vehicle areas that offer the potential to reduce weight include chassis structural components. A cradle or a subframe is a chassis structural component that is utilized to support the engine/powertrain in front wheel drive vehicles. Traditionally, engine cradles have been manufactured by using stamped steel weldments. Recently, automotive designers are considering alternative processes, i.e., hydro-forming, as well as fabricating engine cradles using lightweight materials. The objective of this paper is to describe the development of an aluminum engine cradle for a General Motors's midsize vehicle. The design criteria and structural performance requirements for this cradle are presented along with an overview of the manufacturing processes used to produce this lightweight structural part.