Lightweight construction using high-tensile steels, aluminium and carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics is a subject that has been occupying car industry development departments for years and will become even more important in the future. According to a new McKinsey study, the proportion of these materials in vehicles is set to increase from 30% today to up to 70% in 2030. This means that the cost-effective machining of lightweight components with precision tools will become increasingly important.
High-tensile steel will remain the most important lightweight material. Its market share in the car industry will rise from 15% to 40%, says the new study by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The material will replace conventional steels in many sectors.
A similar increase is also forecast for carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics, which are expected to experience annual growth of 20% in the automobile industry.
However, the reasons for the enormous success of lightweight components are not new: statutory targets in Europe and the USA are compelling manufacturers to dramatically reduce the CO2 emissions of their vehicle fleets. Lighter vehicles are an important step towards that goal. Furthermore, measures have to be taken to counteract the increased weight of models with hybrid and electric propulsion systems. Battery-powered vehicles are up to 250 kilograms heavier than conventional models.
Plastic wheel rims possible
How far this development has progressed was demonstrated in January at the Detroit Motor Show. For example, a chemical company presented a concept car with wheel rims made of thermoplastic material – they were 30% lighter than aluminium rims. A entire group of manufacturers also presented new models with hybrid and electric propulsion units.
Tailor-made LMT developments
These developments are being ideally addressed by LMT’s focus on performance and tool innovation. Its specialists are developing tools for the efficient machining of aluminium and composite materials. With a raft of new developments in these areas LMT ONSRUD and LMT BELIN are demonstrating how high-speed machining can guarantee greater efficiency throughout the entire production process. On the other hand, developers at LMT FETTE have demonstrated that high removal rates are also possible when machining high-tensile tool steels – for example, using Nanosphere Red cutters. These specially coated tools promise an up to twofold increase in tool life, especially in the machining of hardened materials.