Automotive lightweight construction – an integrated approach
Benteler Automobiltechnik GmbH not only develops lightweight construction products for diverse applications in the automotive industry, but also relies on the enhancement of its competencies in the areas of process development, manufacturing technologies, and materials.
Lightweight body construction
The structural parts demonstrate the special significance of changing market requirements because this is where about 40 percent of the mass of a passenger car is located. Thus for many years we have used high-strength, cold-formed multi-phase steels and ultra-high-strength, hot-formed boron steels, among other materials. By omitting stiffening plates we are able to reduced wall thicknesses and the number of components. This significantly lowers the weight without impairing reliably high performance in the event of a crash.
High-strength aluminum materials are of increasing interest for use in aluminum press parts for body applications. To increase the formability, we have expanded our hot-forming competences by adding newly developed special processes. We therefore now offer our customers everything from FEM-assisted, crash-optimized design and treatment conditions to forming simulations, up to and including series production.
Another important group of materials for lightweight body construction is fiber-reinforced plastics. Their low density compared to aluminum and steel makes it possible to save a great deal of weight. The fiber-reinforced plastics can be used in combination with metallic structures primarily in highly stressed crash areas.
Lightweight chassis construction
In the chassis systems field, Benteler Automotive uses similar strategies to achieve further weight reduction. For years we have been delivering weight-optimized chassis components made of high-strength materials. High-strength, micro-alloyed HSLA and polyphase steels have been used for control arms and front and rear axle supports. We deliver torsion profiles for rear twist beam suspension modules that are weight-optimized by using polyphase steels as well as Mn-B tempered steels. They are used whenever the component calls for the highest requirements combined with low weight.
Apart from the material, the selection of the semifinished product is especially important in the development of passenger car axles. The small installation space, high rigidity requirements, and ever shorter development times require intelligent solutions, which we support with our ideas. But in the chassis sector as well, the future belongs to the intelligent material mixture of aluminum, steel, and fiber-reinforced synthetics. The development of appropriate concepts and the successful combination of different materials are therefore among our key competencies.
Lightweight engine and exhaust system design
In developing engine components, the motivation for new products is not so much weight reduction itself as the direct implementation of measures to lower consumption and emissions. Benteler Automotive is a prominent leader in developing integrated exhaust manifolds and turbine housing modules made of sheet steel for supercharging systems, which replace conventional castings. Up to 50 percent of the weight of high-alloy casting materials can thus be reduced on the turbine housing alone. This innovation results in significant emissions advantages for both gasoline and diesel engines.