New paint system allows total immersion for Mercedes-Benz van bodies

New paint system allows total immersion for Mercedes-Benz van bodies

Body shells up to eight metres long will have their base coats applied using the Dürr Ecopaint RoDip rotational dip process for the first time.

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Car bodies up to eight metres long rotating through an immersion bath is something that has never happened before. The Ecopaint RoDip rotational dip process is now being used in practice for the first time for vehicles of this size. Dürr will be installing this technology in the new Mercedes-Benz Vans factory in North Charleston, US. It will form part of a complete paint shop being built by Dürr on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Vans.


Dip, flood, drain: even very large car bodies, such as those of transporters and vans, can rotate around their own axis with a rotational movement of 360°. When planning the plant in North Charleston, Dürr conducted extensive tests in its technical center. This included testing ways of using the RoDip rotational dip process for painting larger car bodies than had ever been immersed before. The result? RoDip guarantees high-quality corrosion protection as a basis for further surface coating, even for large vehicles.


The Ecopaint RoDip E version will be used in the Mercedes-Benz Vans paint shop in North Charleston, that is currently under construction. The system with electrical drive will transport the closed car bodies of the next generation of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter through pretreatment (PT) and cathodic electro-coating (EC). Each of the freely programmable transport units has a separate drive for rotation in addition to the conveying drive.


The individually programmable transport units enable optimised dip curves for the respective car body. The end result is better coating quality and increased energy efficiency. The rotational process means that smaller bath volumes are possible; these need less chemicals and fresh water and at the same time reduce the energy consumption and volume of wastewater.


Following pretreatment, the seam sealing, underbody protection, and rocker panel protection are applied within a single zone. These combined tasks are performed by four rail-mounted EcoRS robots with the new generation of the EcoGun2 3D applicator. This standardised applicator is suitable for all applications, from spraying insulating material to sealing seams. The EcoGun2 3D is much more streamlined and lightweight than its predecessor model, making it ideal for getting into even hard-to-access areas of the body shell.


The fully automated interior and exterior painting steps are performed cost-effectively in their own zones in stop and go mode using a special atomiser of the type EcoBell3 HX designed for painting detailed and exterior surfaces. Interior painting in the cargo space is performed by non-rail-mounted swingarm robots. With their extended arms, they are specially designed for use in large cargo spaces. This is the first time they are being installed in this form in the USA.


Vans have a large number of different colors applied to them. In order to be able to apply this variety with minimal paint loss during paint changes, the robots are connected to the EcoSupply P special paint supply system with pigging technology.


EcoSupply P special paint supply system ensures a wide range of paints and minimal losses

The semi-automatic system EcoDry X for dry separation of the overspray in the paint booths requires absolutely no water or chemicals. This system, designed for simplicity and robustness, works on the basis of cardboard filters. The paint shop equipped entirely by Dürr also includes paint application with primer and 2-wet process for topcoat.


Mercedes-Benz Vans announced its plans to extend its existing assembly location for vans and build a new factory for the production of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in North Charleston in South Carolina (USA) back in 2015. Production is due to start before the end of the decade. Up to now, Sprinters for the USA have been manufactured in Germany and, to avoid high import duties they are partially disassembled in a complex process and reassembled in the plant in North Charleston.


According to Daimler this additional step has put Mercedes-Benz Vans at a clear competitive disadvantage on the US market. The new factory and vehicles "made in USA" will enable the division to service the growing demand from North American customers much more economically in the future, and significantly reduce the delivery times in the market. The division is therefore investing around $500 million in the construction of the factory. Mercedes-Benz Vans is the only manufacturer in the large transporter segment that is still manufacturing in Germany (Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde).

Magna brings carbon fibre composites into vehicle structure with innovative subframe

Magna brings carbon fibre composites into vehicle structure with innovative subframe

Collaborative R&D project with Ford.

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In pursuit of lower vehicle weight to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency, Magna International, in cooperation with Ford, developed a prototype carbon fibre composite subframe which reduces mass by 34% compared to making a stamped steel equivalent.

By replacing 45 steel parts with two molded and four metallic parts, the prototype subframe achieves a dramatic 87% reduction in the number of parts. The moldings are joined by adhesive bonding and structural rivets.

The carbon fibre subframe is the result of a research and development project between Magna and Ford to investigate potential mass-reduction benefits and technical challenges of using carbon fibre-reinforced composites in chassis applications. The subframe is a key part of a vehicle's structure, typically providing a place to attach the engine and wheels while also contributing rigidity and crash management.

"When we are able to work in close partnership with a customer at the beginning of their design and engineering processes, it's an opportunity to bring our full Magna capabilities to bear," said Grahame Burrow, President of Magna Exteriors, speaking at JEC World 2017 in Paris. "We are able to take a clean-sheet approach with design, materials and processing, collaborate with the customer and within our product groups, and deliver a solution with the potential to really move the needle in terms of aggressive lightweighting without sacrificing styling or performance."

Magna's engineering team – a collaborative effort between the company's body & chassis and exteriors product groups – combined its unique, full-vehicle knowledge on the design, materials and processing to address the challenge of reducing weight using composite materials and manufacturing processes.

The design has passed all performance requirements based on computer-aided engineering (CAE) analyses. The prototype subframes are now being produced by Magna for component and vehicle-level testing at Ford.

"Collaboration is the key to success in designing lightweight components that can give our customers fuel economy improvements without compromising ride and handling, durability or safety. We must continue to work hard to achieve these lightweight solutions at the most affordable costs. Magna and Ford working together on this carbon fibre composite subframe is a great example of collaboration on advanced materials," said Mike Whitens, Director of Vehicle Enterprise Systems within Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.

The testing phase will evaluate corrosion, stone chipping and bolt load retention, which aren't currently measured by CAE. The project team will also develop a recommended design, manufacturing and assembly process with the experience gained during the prototype build and subsequent testing.

"We've been a pioneer in the use of lightweight materials for many years now," added Burrow. "First we launched the CF hood for the Cadillac CTS/ATS-V series, followed by a carbon fibre grille opening reinforcement for the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500. Applying our expertise now to a structural component like the subframe is another step forward as we continue to help our OEM partners meet their goals."

Schuler wins servo press line order for Borgward production in China

Schuler wins servo press line order for Borgward production in China

Borgward, has been successfully launched onto the Chinese market with its innovative BX7 model, and to increase production capacity, the OEM has ordered an XL servo press line from Schuler.

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From August 2018 onwards, the five-station servo press line based in Beijing-Miyun will produce body panels for the BX7, BX5 and BX6 models. The line with a press force of 67,000 kilonewtons comprises five presses and is fully supplied by Schuler, including the corresponding automation. The line features the now tried-and-tested ServoDirect technology and offers state-of-the-art in terms of energy efficiency. The latest energy management for the main drives is also just as important a requirement when it comes to designing the hydraulic drawing cushion in the first press with triple action cylinders.


Up to 16 large parts per minute are produced by the Servoline 16, double and quadruple parts can be manufactured accordingly at a higher batch quantity. The simulation program, which is also included within the scope of the order, ensures that operators are provided with optimum alignment of all movements of single presses and automation, including destackers, Crossbar Feeders for the parts transport and exit conveyor. The fast, fully automated replacement of dies and toolings ensures the flexibility needed for fast product changes.


Except for a few special components, Schuler manufactures and assembles the modules for the line – beds, uprights, slides and crowns – completely in the Chinese production facility in Dalian.
The total vehicle production capacity of Borgward will increase even further, thanks to the cooperation with Schuler. As such, the overall operative strength of the intelligent factory 4.0 is considerably increased and supports the production system by offering consumers more intelligent automobiles.

Cooperation pays off with suppliers' contract for composite leaf springs on more Volvo models

Cooperation pays off with suppliers' contract for composite leaf springs on more Volvo models

Volvo is adopting high performance, lightweight composite transverse leaf springs for more models following their successful introduction several months ago on its premium crossover SUV, the XC90.

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Volvo is now also using the innovative concept on its new S90 luxury sedan and V90 station wagon models. Henkel's Loctite MAX 2 flagship two-component polyurethane composite matrix resin system has proved fundamental in enabling the development of this innovative leaf spring, produced by Benteler-SGL using high-speed resin transfer molding (RTM). Total volumes could reach close to 200,000 per year by the end of 2017.

In all three car models, the transverse leaf spring incorporated into the rear suspension saves a significant 4.5 kg compared to steel coil springs normally used in cars, leading to an important improvement in fuel efficiency and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The leaf spring also helps provide a smoother ride and improved NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) behavior. Furthermore, by eliminating coil springs that would otherwise protrude into the trunk area, the transverse leaf spring leaves more space for luggage.
Volvo operates on the basis of what it calls the "Scalable Platform Architecture" (SPA) principle, which makes it possible for innovative concepts that are successfully implemented on one vehicle to be easily adapted for use on other models.

Henkel's substantial experience and process know-how in resin transfer molding (RTM) was important in obtaining short cycle times necessary for high series production of the composite parts. The low viscosity of Loctite MAX 2 enables it to rapidly fill the mold and impregnate the fiber preform without disturbing its positioning. Its high cure rate — substantially faster than epoxy resins — further adds to the speed of production.

Commenting on the successful partnership, Frank Kerstan, Henkel's Global Program Manager Automotive Composites says: "Together with Benteler SGL, Henkel is very proud of this composite innovation and the fact that we now have our lightweight technology implemented in three Volvo models."
Frank Fetscher, Business Development Manager at Benteler adds: "The composite leaf springs are another example of how a close cooperation between our partner Henkel and us in development of new processes and matrix resins — as well as adhesives and binders — can lead to the successful large-scale production of new composite concepts."

This cooperation was further facilitated last year with the opening of Henkel's Composite Lab state-of-the-art test facility in Heidelberg, Germany. "Here, automotive customers can work with Henkel experts to develop and test composite parts, and also optimize production process conditions," Kerstan says. "They can carry out trials on Henkel's own HP-RTM equipment, which has resin injection units for polyurethanes and epoxies coupled to a 380-ton press."

Zircotec wins European supercar exhaust ceramic coating contract

Zircotec wins European supercar exhaust ceramic coating contract

Heat management specialist Zircotec has secured its biggest ever single contract, to supply an ultra-durable ceramic coating for the exhaust tail pipes of a premium European supercar.

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The £1 million contract is for Zircotec's Ultimate Range. The coating has been specified to protect nearby carbon fibre components from heat whilst providing a long lasting cosmetic finish that has been developed to suit vehicle styling requirements.


"Our Ultimate Range was developed to provide the maximum resistance to corrosion, stone chips and general wear and tear. It will continue to look good year after year, protecting surrounding panels and paintwork from high temperatures," explained Zircotec Group Sales Director Graeme Barette. "Maintaining the long-term appearance of the tail pipe without the usual deterioration has a disproportionate effect on a car's cosmetics, helping to prolong the showroom fresh look and distinguishing a premium vehicle from a more mainstream product."


The components will be shipped from the specialist exhaust manufacturer to Zircotec's technical facility in Oxfordshire, UK, where the patented ceramic based coating is applied. The parts are quality checked to the customer's standards and shipped directly to the vehicle manufacturer for installation.


Because Zircotec's ceramic coatings are plasma-sprayed, using a proprietary process originally developed for the nuclear industry, they are more strongly adherent than any painted finish. The coating is in effect "welded" in place, providing an effective thermal barrier as well as a cosmetically durable surface. Zircotec's Ultimate Range coating is available in a range of colours and surface textures.
To ensure consistently high quality across a large production run, Zircotec has further evolved its advanced automated manufacturing processes. This has also led to increased efficiency, with shorter lead times, greater productivity and lower unit costs.


"Having seen our successful previous applications on limited volume vehicles, the bigger manufacturers are now recognising the advantages of Zircotec coatings," said Barette. "The increase in demand, coupled with our expanded capacity to deliver series production quantities, has made our Ultimate Range one of the fastest growing part of our business."

Valeo acquires 3D cabin image processing software developer gestigon

Valeo acquires 3D cabin image processing software developer gestigon

Valeo has acquired all of the outstanding shares of gestigon, a German start‑up specialised in developing 3D image processing software for the vehicle cabin.

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Designed to reinforce Valeo's technological leadership in automated driving, this acquisition provides a solution to the need to develop simple, intuitive and effective human-machine interfaces (HMI) in a hyper-connected world. With the acquisition, Valeo will be able to develop its cabin comfort and driving assistance operations, particularly in high-growth technologies such as interior cameras and image processing.


These technologies are increasingly a key differentiating factor in the automotive industry, and gestigon's cutting-edge artificial intelligence-based solutions will contribute to the development of Valeo's automated driving strategy. The start-up's software suite, which is compatible with all types of in-vehicle gesture and movement recognition sensors, signals a real technological breakthrough.

Building on Valeo's existing Driver Monitoring system, which can sense driver drowsiness or distraction, the acquisition will lead to the development of a comprehensive offering of object and occupant detection features. Going forward, the vehicle will be able to analyse the cabin environment and seamlessly adapt to the occupants' safety needs – by activating airbags, for example.

"We are delighted to welcome gestigon to the Valeo community," said Marc Vrecko, head of Valeo's Comfort and Driving Assistance Systems Business Group. "A leader in human-machine interface solutions, this start-up enjoys recognised expertise in the automotive industry. By combining our skills in a larger team, we will sharpen our edge and reinforce our leadership in autonomous and connected cars."

Continental selects Cypress Automotive MCUs to drive next-generation body electronics platform

Continental selects Cypress Automotive MCUs to drive next-generation body electronics platform

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. today announced that Continental has selected Cypress' automotive microcontrollers (MCUs) for its next-generation body electronics platform.

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Cypress designed the Traveo II family specifically to deliver the performance, scalability, low power consumption and security required for emerging automotive platforms. The solution will support Continental in providing their customers with a broad range of options for a variety of products, including central body control modules, door, window and sunroof control units, seat control units, smartphone terminals and wireless power charging units.


"Global vehicle manufacturers rely on Continental for automotive systems that enable cutting-edge features to address the market's latest trends, such as firmware over-the-air updates, and with increasingly higher standards for reliable performance," said Michael Crane, Vice President, Body & Security, North America, Continental. "The strong performance and scalability of the Traveo II family made it stand out as the right choice for our next-generation body electronics platform. Cypress has established a strong track record as a partner to Continental, proving their design expertise and backing their portfolio with responsive support."


"In my years working with Continental, I developed a deep appreciation for the precision, innovation and quality the world's automakers demand to differentiate their vehicles," said Hassane El-Khoury, President and CEO at Cypress. "This platform order marks a significant step forward for Cypress' automotive portfolio and our new Traveo II family. Our Traveo MCUs have earned Cypress a leadership position in the automotive cluster market, and we intend to earn a leading position for body electronics with our Traveo II family."


The multicore Traveo II family is based on ARM Cortex-M7 and -M4 cores (M4 core pictured above) with up to 8MB of embedded flash that helps the devices deliver the robust performance required for demanding body electronics applications. Featuring advanced peripherals, including support for the CAN-FD, Ethernet and FlexRay communication protocols, Traveo II MCUs offer scalability and pin-compatibility from the low-end to the high-end. The family provides low power consumption with a deep sleep mode and enhanced security for today's connected cars. The MCUs are backed by AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) 4.2 software.

Schaeffler and Diehl Metall to cooperate on synchronisation systems for transmissions

Schaeffler and Diehl Metall to cooperate on synchronisation systems for transmissions

The two companies have announced their extended portfolio, with their Eco System and Short System, which use tried-and-tested components with standardised design as well as new solutions for optimising design space without sacrificing performance.

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Synchro rings and synchronisation systems are essential components in vehicle transmissions and determine the comfort of manual transmissions, automatic transmissions and double clutch transmissions. Synchronisation systems will also be needed in future applications of hybrid transmissions, some with new functions.

Schaeffler and Diehl Metall are now cooperating in this field. The manufacturing and development locations of both companies are close together in many regions. Now synchronisation systems can be manufactured in Germany, Brazil, China, India and Thailand, and customers can be served locally.
"With its comprehensive system and transmission expertise, Schaeffler is an ideal partner for Diehl Metall to meet customers' increasing requirements for integrated synchronisation systems," explained Jürgen Geise, CEO of Diehl Metall Schmiedetechnik. Gunter Hirt, product line manager at Schaeffler, added: "This cooperation with Diehl Metall was an obvious decision in many regards, not only because of the proximity of our locations around the world, but also with regard to complementing our products as well as our development and manufacturing expertise. By combining both companies' expertise, we will be able to provide transmission solutions today and in the future."


Product advantages

Schaeffler and Diehl Metall offer two customised solutions with the Eco and Short System. The Eco System already permits the best possible efficiency and system performance with a standardised yet individually adjusted design.
The Short System fully utilises the potential offered by matched components and technologies for reducing the design space without sacrificing performance. Schaeffler Technologies Short Synchro (STSS) allows the axial design space of the transmission to be reduced by up to 25% by consistently utilising the advantages offered by forming technology. Smaller tooth moduli and innovative detailed solutions make it possible to maintain the relevant width of the friction cones that affect performance, the gear-tooth load and the clearance that is important for low drag torques. If the overall length reduction is implemented in the transmission structure, this may reduce the weight by up to 3.5kg and also reduce costs. The freed-up design space can be used in a number of ways depending on the application, such as increasing gear teeth performance or for drive train hybridisation.


Combined expertise from Germany

Schaeffler is well known as a leading innovator with a variety of technologies. The Automotive division develops and manufactures forward-looking products in the areas of engines, transmissions and chassis systems. The Schaeffler Group, one of the leading automotive suppliers worldwide, offers comprehensive technical expertise for the entire drive train. The spectrum of the group's operating excellence includes components and system solutions for both vehicles with drive trains based on the internal combustion engine, as well as hybrid and electric vehicles.
As a successful development partner to the international automotive industry, Diehl Metall is a global market leader in the synchronisation of manual transmissions. The company provides solutions for all performance areas, creating ideal requirements for customised systems for state-of-the-art engine and drive technologies.
Both companies will be showcasing their products from April 20 to 21, 2017 at the TMC, China's largest international transmission congress, a symposium for vehicle drives, ICE, (P)HEV and EV drives.

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