Rightweighting Parts Leads to Maximum Performance

America's Cup RaceWhen machining a part, it stands to reason that optimizing the component’s size and weight within the design parameters of the system is an important step in maximizing efficiency and performance. We call this principle “rightweighting.”

The aerospace industry, with its daily battles between power, lift and mass, was one of the first segments to discover this principle and has become quite adept at applying it. Automotive and other earth-bound industries are now ramping up their commitment to applying the same principles to design and engineer the next generation of transportation technology. This is especially true in light of new global regulations that demand lower fuel consumption and much lower tail pipe emissions. Less weight equates to less fuel and less greenhouse gas.

It is important to note that this concept is not the same as manufacturing “light weight” parts. We use the term “rightweighting” because we have a spent a great deal of time and care to design innovative engineering and manufacturing techniques that ensure the function, strength and durability of components are never compromised.

Use of Lighter Materials

The obvious first step in reducing weight is to replace heavier raw materials with alternatives that weigh less. The choice of the right material lowers the finished weight of the part before machining even begins. For example, by substituting aluminum for steel you inherently get over a 60% weight savings through density reduction alone.

Before considering this alternative, we conducted a great deal of research on aluminum and how the different types and grades of aluminum can effect outcomes for our customers. Properties we have investigated include:

  • Durability and wear characteristics
  • Acceptance of different types of anodic coatings
  • Tool life and overall manufacturing efficiency

To guarantee our quality standards, we also conducted studies on internal considerations such as the kind of burrs it will produce and the kind of metering edge attainable.

The innovative methods developed by our internal machining experts have been so successful a major Japanese automaker has starting using them instead of the industry standard for key engine components.

Reducing Weight with Innovative Engineering

When steel is the preferred material, being able to reduce material and wall thickness can be just as advantageous as using lighter materials. This is true when you are dealing with complex assemblies under high pressure that must fit in a small or relatively small area – such as fuel system, pump and injector components. Camcraft is a pioneer in this area.

For example, our post treatment methods can create a stronger thin wall and actually increase the durability of the design well above what it would have been in a thicker, heavier package achieved with traditional machining practices.

Cold forging has inherent benefits through grain alignment of the ductile metal surface layers. This improves strength characteristics, how the metal responds to machining and subsequent processing for some applications and lends itself to smaller more compact parts. Using methods such as die casting or machining from near net shape blanks allows us to start with the minimum amount of material for each part produced.

Looking to the Future

Rightweighting is only one example of how Camcraft is always on the lookout for new technologies and engineering innovations that expand our tool kit for solving our customers’ most difficult precision manufacturing challenges. We approach each part design as a unique situation. If you’re designing or sourcing a component that requires some outside of the box metallurgical thinking, consider partnering with Camcraft.