Engineering services specialist IAV Automotive Engineering, headquartered in Berlin, Germany, states that it is using metal additively manufactured parts to shorten its engine development timelines, according to an interview with Automotive Engineering during the WCX™18: SAE World Congress Experience.
In the interview, IAV stated that it has recently begun additively manufacturing pistons for engine research and development purposes, for customers involved with commercial vehicle diesel engines and passenger vehicle gasoline engines. The company has also produced cylinder heads for an advanced thermal management system.
“A 3D printed part is a very fast way to get a new piece to the test stand, so you can compare and analyse variations in part geometry,” stated Robert Dolan, Director of Commercial Vehicle and Government Programs for IAV. He explained that, “the 3D printed pistons enable us to achieve internal geometries that you can’t get through traditional manufacturing methods.”
One example is an AM piston designed for a gasoline engine, which features an internal honeycomb structure beneath the dome area of the part. “It provides the strength needed to tolerate the cylinder pressure, and it incorporates cooling features,” Dolan explained.
IAV stated that its metal additively manufactured pistons can weigh up to 25% less than pistons produced using conventional manufacturing methods. The company also noted that it is investigating production methods for AM parts. “It’s likely to happen much sooner with a lower-volume, high-content piston for a diesel engine commercial vehicle before it would happen for a passenger vehicle,” Dolan stated. “And that’s because the boundary conditions are so much more severe with a diesel engine piston.”
While production scale use of AM is still under investigation, Dolan stated that the technology has proven itself a valuable solution for testing applications. “Just put yourself in the middle of an internal combustion engine development programme,” he commented. “It’s expensive to operate an engine in a specific test cell, so when you decide that you want to change this or that based on the results, being able to get a 3D printed piston into the test cell in just a day or two days versus several weeks is very appealing.”