22 FORGINGMAGAZINE.COM I FALL 2021not include power steering fluid due to all-electric power steering. This reduced need for various fluids requiresfewer tanks, hoses, and tubes to direct the fluid around thevehicle chassis.
Electrical generation. Because even an internal-combustion engine requires electrical power for running various peripherals (lights, radio, air conditioning,etc.) and the main computer and sensors, it must have acomplicated power-generation system in addition to thecar battery. An electric vehicle requires fewer overallcomponents dedicated to reclaiming some power frombraking. The rest of the power comes from the EV battery; the same source used to drive the car.
With all of these considerations, and others too, electricvehicles require significantly fewer internal metal components. Many have speculated that this may negatively affectthe forging industry. However, it’s important to understandthat, despite the simplicity of EVs, forged components willonly become more valuable to automotive manufacturers.
FORGED ALUMINUM PARTS’ PERFORMANCE
Automotive designers and manufacturers are alwayslooking for the best tradeoff between price and performance. In an internal combustion vehicle, the large number of internal metal components makes this a much moredelicate balancing act. A slight increase in the price ofeach component can lead to a significant impact on thefinal manufacturing price of the vehicle.
But the simplicity of electric vehicle designs makes a fully forged aluminum vehicle a much more attractive option.
Forged aluminum components bring several benefits,
owing to the nature of their structure and production that
make them superior to castings, including:
• Strength: Forging metal components involves a pro-
cess called “plastic deformation,” whereby the internal
structure of a solid block of metal is permanently altered
into a new shape. This new shape will carry with it internal
stresses, as the components’ sub-structure is not properly
aligned. This contributes to an overall level of strength and
rigidity that no casting can achieve.
• Reliability: Due to the plastic deformation of aforged component, its reliability is greater than a machined or cast component. The rigidity of a forged component means that it does not deform significantly over time,thus making it more reliable for applications in which thattype of wear is unacceptable.
• Weight: Due to the higher relative strength of aforged component and the strength-to-weight ratios ofaluminum, a forged aluminum component can be madewith smaller volumes of material overall, and in strongergeometries that reduce the weight of the final component.This can have compounding effects on the final weight ofan assembled vehicle, without sacrificing performance.
WHY IS FORGED ALUMINUM RIGHT FOR EVS?
The benefits of forged aluminum components are apparent, but what makes them so well-suited for the emerging EVmanufacturing industry? Here are just a few factors that makeforged aluminum parts the right choice for electric vehicles.
Design simplicity. Owing to the reduced need formany moving parts and the entire absence of certain subsystems in an electric vehicle, the design of electric vehicle mechanical components will be inherently simpler.
Forged aluminum components allow designers to combinesimple geometries for more significant impact, which isimportant, as many engineering resources are currentlydedicated to battery pack designs.
High performance. As noted, pound for pound,forged aluminum components simply perform better thancast or machined automotive parts. For luxury or consumer vehicles, better performance and higher reliability leadto consumer loyalty and better sales.
The shift to electric vehicles may represent a reorganization for vehicle manufacturers, and those vehicles that deliver better performance and better reliability will be poisedto capture an outsized share of the consumer base.
Production speed. Electric vehicle manufacturerswill benefit from a revolution in car sales coming soon.Those that are poised to provide the most products can garner the most sales volumes, and Amazon has shown thatsupply-chain management is critical to retailing success.As such, fast supplies of all EV components and fasterfactory turnarounds are vital to meeting production standards and getting the products into the market. For a fullICE vehicle, the number of mechanical components maymake forging seem like a slow process; but for an electricvehicle, with fewer parts to source, forge shops can easilyproduce all the necessary components at the same speed(or faster) than comparable casting shops.
Minimal cost impact. The initial cost of forged components may seem higher, but the overall benefits of using forged aluminum components for electric vehicles arerapidly bringing the price to near parity with other popularcomponent manufacturing methods.
All of the points listed above minimize the cost impactof using forged components, allowing auto manufacturersto benefit from forged aluminum components withoutpaying hefty costs.
Kerry Kubatzke is the lead sales manager for AnchorHarvey, an aluminum forger, and has over 35 years of experience in engineering and precision forge manufacturing.Contact him at KKubatzke@anchorharvey.com; or visitwww.anchorharvey.com
Automotive designers and manufacturers will come to realize that an ICE vehicle’s large number ofmetal components makes the cost/performance tradeoff a more difficult balance, while the simplicity of electric vehicle designs makes cost-management for forged aluminum parts more feasible.
Internal combustion engines generate much more heat than electric fuel cells, meaning that EVs’cooling systems are simpler and require fewer components to direct coolant efficiently.
Due to the higher relative strength of a forged component and thestrength-to-weight ratios of aluminum, an aluminum forging canbe made with smaller volumes of material overall, and in strongergeometries that reduce the weight of the final component. Thiscan have compounding effects on the final weight of an assembled vehicle, without sacrificing performance.