ESI Pam-Stamp 2017 simulation software for sheet metal forming covers cold-, warm-, and hot-forming and most special processes for all types of metallic materials. The software can manage progressive, transfer, and line dies and tool surface design. Simulation results address thinning, splitting, compression, wrinkling, trim line optimization, spring back, and die compensation.
As 8-, 9-, and 10-speed automatic transmissions become more common, system complexity and sensitivity increases. With additional speeds comes the requirement for additional clutch actuation ports to be added to the transmission shaft, resulting in less space between ports and thinner port walls. While delivering increased fuel economy and better performance, these modern transmission systems have much less operational tolerance.
When a major automotive manufacturer noted noise and rough shifting in their new, multi-speed automatic transmission systems, engineers began a system-wide analysis. They eventually focused on dead space within the cross-drilled channels that connected the clutch actuation ports. These channels allowed for even distribution of transmission fluid, but created approximately 6" of space between an actuation port and the transmission shaft seal. The dead space became an area where air would collect, which was determined to be a major source of the performance issues.
The manufacturer brought the project to SFC Koenig for evaluation. SFC Koenig engineers reviewed the cross-drilled channel design and noted that the manufacturer continued to use the same cup plug seals used in their older, less advanced transmissions. The cup plugs, which sealed holes at the surface of the transmission shaft, created the dead space that allowed air pockets to form. While these air pockets were not problematic in the operation of their older designs, the new transmission systems were much more sensitive.
“While often selected for their low price, cup plugs present a number of challenges, especially in precision and deep bore applications,” says Nate Moore, product manager at SFC Koenig. “We knew that sealing at the surface was not a good solution, and cup plugs couldn’t be installed deep within a drilled shaft, deep in the transmission. Ensuring proper installation of a cup plug in that type of location would be extremely difficult. In this design there would be no way to visually inspect the seal integrity or to access an improperly installed seal for a repair. A failed seal would result in complete transmission failure.”
Eliminating cup plugs
Cup plug installation offers little tolerance for variation. The installation system must provide accurate alignment, apply even and controlled pressure, and deliver a precise stroke to create a secure seal. The aspect ratio of cup plugs (wide in diameter but short), make alignment more difficult. Additionally, pressure points created by installation tools make the cup plugs susceptible to deformation and can lead to a reduction in seal effectiveness. There is also an inherent risk of contamination from sealant, which most cup plugs require to maintain seal integrity.
Other common sealing solutions, such as threaded pipe plugs, were also not viable options. A threaded plug would require the port to be tapped to the cross passage, introducing additional machining processes, increasing costs, production effort, and the risk of contamination from metal debris. Such a solution would ultimately require another form of thread locker to secure the plug in place.
SFC Koenig engineers suggested a solution that could be reliably positioned deep within the bore. A push-type Koenig Expander MB 850 Series plug would be installed at the edge of the clutch actuation port, eliminating the space that allowed air pockets to form.
Koenig Expander plugs feature a serrated sleeve and ball. During installation, the ball is forced into the sleeve, causing the plug to expand into the base material. This creates a permanent, metal-to-metal seal that does not require sealant, and can be installed in the existing gun-drilled port without additional machining.
“Our Koenig Expander plugs were the type of engineered sealing solution a high-performance application like this requires,” Moore says. “We have installed more than 3 billion components with field failure rates less than 1 part per million. After testing and evaluation, our customer was also able to realize the value in our one-piece, engineered expander seal.”
SFC Koenig worked directly with the manufacturer, providing the sealing technology and developing a solution to integrate their products into the manufacturer’s production lines. While high-speed installation tools were accurate, there was concern for variation caused by positioning tolerances in the automated environment. SFC Koenig engineers developed an additional positioning method to ensure optimal placement.
During installation, a temporary, removable pin was inserted into the actuation port. The Koenig Expander was inserted into the deep gun-drilled channel, pushed until it contacted the pin, and expanded. After the seal was installed, the pin was removed, ensuring the plug was not inserted too deep in the channel, which could block part of the actuation port. The process provided maximum contact between the plug sleeve and the port walls, ensuring the most direct fluid path and blocked access to the dead space behind the expander.
With the Koenig Expander plugs in place, problems associated with air pockets were eliminated. Testing of the new transmission was successful and the SFC Koenig solution was used in large-scale production of the transmission systems.
Given the Koenig Expander’s performance and reliability, engineers have begun to work with SFC Koenig to evaluate other opportunities for expander seal technology, such as hydraulic manifolds, pumps, cylinder heads, and engine blocks.
Flexion N-Series, 6-axis robots feature a compact folding arm design for applications requiring smaller robots and workcells. The first robot introduced in the series – the Flexion N2 – offers a 450mm reach and 2.5kg max. payload. A tight-space motion capability keeps arm extremities out of the way, maximizing motion efficiency for faster cycle times. The folding arm reduces required workspace up to 40% compared to standard, 6-axis robots.
The Flexion N-Series is available in both ceiling and tabletop configurations. Compatible and packaged with the RC700A controller, the Flexion N-Series also uses Epson RC+ Robot Development Software and can be used with Epson integrated options, including Vision Guidance, Force Sensing, Fieldbus, and GUI Builder.
The RS4 scanner for the Romer Absolute Arm includes new optics and electronics, delivering a nearly 60% faster scan rate than the previous model. Optimized for measuring objects with challenging surfaces such as carbon fiber or machined steel, the system delivers verifiable and traceable accuracy.
The Romer Absolute Arm SI with the RS4 scanner provides tactile and non-contact dimensional measurements for point-cloud inspection, product benchmarking, reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, virtual assembly, and CNC milling.
An ultra-wide laser line nearly doubles the width of its predecessor, providing larger surface coverage and faster data collection. With a higher point resolution, users can obtain greater point cloud detail in less time during a scanning session. The shape of the RS4 also allows users to scan more deeply into difficult-to-reach cavities, with no reduction in accuracy performance. Users of the portable measuring arm can switch between tactile probe measurements and laser scanning to acquire 3D point data.
The self-clamping system in the DrillMeister system enables simple, swift drill-head indexing. To replace tools with the system, users can swap out drill heads without removing the entire drill body from the toolholder and re-adjusting tool overhang. A drill head can be mounted or removed with small torque and can be done in the machine as needed.
Diameter ranges 6.0mm to 9.9mm will be available with the TID type drill bodies of 1.5D, 3D, 5D, and 8D for small diameter hole making in various materials. The high-helical flute angle and polished flute surface provide chip evacuation with the flange-type drill body. Chip evacuation can be achieved even in drilling deep holes of 5xD or deeper.
Ask a Silicon Valley futurist about the potential of self-driving cars, and you’ll hear a vision of shared mobility – people won’t own cars, they’ll subscribe to transportation services that will send vehicles to their doors to pick them up and take them where they want to go. Owning a car will be as much a foreign concept to people 10 years from now as dial-up Internet is today.
Instead of sitting in parking lots, cars will be in constant motion, and far fewer will be needed. It’s a vision that’s drawing huge investments – $1 billion from Ford in February to fund tech startup Argo AI, $1 billion from General Motors (GM) last year to buy Cruise Automation, $500 million from GM in early 2016 to buy a big part of car-sharing service Lyft.
While most industry watchers expect autonomous technology to develop at a rapid pace, a few are suggesting that the utopian future with small numbers of vehicles in constant use is not realistic.
More passengers, more traffic
One of the biggest questions for automotive manufacturers and suppliers is what impact autonomous technology will have on sales. Visionaries say producers should brace for massive volume declines as people turn away from ownership. Glenn Mercer, a longtime automotive analyst who has studied autonomous systems for the National Automobile Dealers Association, presents an opposing view.
“If you make an experience cheaper and more effective, people are going to use more of it,” Mercer says. “Better asset utilization and vehicle sharing – some of that may happen. But you’re dramatically increasing the number of people with access to transportation.”
Early adopters of driverless cars will likely be people who can’t drive for themselves, such as disabled and elderly people. With the aging American population, that second group could be massive within the next 15 years, Mercer says.
If non-driving seniors simply use Uber or Lyft, demand for new vehicles may only rise slightly, but Mercer adds that the demographic most likely to use autonomous vehicles initially is the least technologically savvy. So, a very possible outcome will be large numbers of seniors buying self-driving cars – increasing the number of vehicles on the road.
“The implications for congestion are massive,” Mercer says. “Even if the vehicle sharing model becomes dominant, you’re still talking about moving more people around every day. You might be able to improve the capacity utilization of individual vehicles, but the number of trips traveled will go up, not down.”
Taking care of cars
Joe Vitale, global automotive industry leader for Deloitte LLP, believes vehicle sharing will start dominating the market by about 2035, and auto sales will fall sharply as fewer people own vehicles. But several issues will need to be settled, the biggest being the question of ownership.
Uber and Lyft rely on individuals to drive the vehicles and care for their cars. If late-night revelers spill their drinks, an Uber driver will clean the mess before picking up his next passenger. Take that driver away, and the ownership-free model starts looking a lot more like public transportation – cleanliness, vehicle condition, and basic comfort issues will vary greatly.
“Someone’s going to have to maintain the vehicles. The brand of the vehicle will be less important than the brand of the fleet services company managing your experience,” Vitale says.
The business model will be similar to taxi fleets in large cities – expensive equipment with labor-intensive maintenance. Because capacity utilization of vehicles would be very high, transportation costs to consumers will likely be lower than owning a vehicle, but the difference may not be as radical as some are predicting.
Look and feel
Vishwas Shankar, an automotive analyst at Frost & Sullivan, also believes that autonomous, shared vehicles will eventually dominate the industry. Ownership, care, and cost issues will need to be settled before service companies figure out how to make money (something that hasn’t happened yet with Lyft and Uber losing billions of dollars in recent years). However, automakers should continue investing in sharing services and developing new vehicles for the market.
“Design will change as autonomy takes a bigger role. Rear-seat comfort is going to be as important, if not more important, than the front seat,” Vishwas says.
The traditional shape and layout of modern vehicles assumes a front-seat driver, but that won’t be the case within the next 15 years, he adds. Designers will have the freedom to develop vehicles with radically different shapes when the need for large, forward-facing windows declines. Without pedals, steering wheels, and other mechanical features, more room will be available to fit into a smaller vehicle.
Share or own
Even without vehicle sharing, experts agree that the technology enabling autonomous vehicles will continue to develop at a rapid pace. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), electronic safety systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning systems, have become very popular in recent years. Those systems enable autonomous driving by adding sensors to vehicles and motor controls to take over operations if drivers don’t react to threats.
However, Vitale adds, drivers aren’t 100% comfortable with those systems, and as cars take over more of the driving experience, consumer wariness grows.
“In one survey, 74% of consumers in the U.S. said they felt that fully autonomous vehicles were unsafe. So there’s a lot of education that will need to take place,” Vitale says.
Mercer says consumer comfort will grow if automakers implement systems properly. He sees cultural issues being the bigger impediment to autonomous, shared vehicles. Given the choice between efficiency and convenience, consumers tend to pick convenience. That means buying bigger cars and houses and avoiding public transportation in favor of bumper-to-bumper commutes. Shared vehicle ownership will become less attractive if subscribing to a car service means waiting more than 20 minutes to leave work, or paying a premium if you live in a far-off suburb.
“There is an existential threat to the current system. If the pieces fit together just right, car sharing and autonomy could break existing models,” Mercer says. “It’s possible but not likely.”