IAV, which specializes in engineering services has recently turned to 3 D printing engine parts like pistons to shorten the timeline for engine development. Robert Dolan, Director of Commercial Vehicle and Government Programs for IAV said in an interview he gave to “Automotive Engineering” that using a 3D printed part can help get a new piece to the test stand a lot faster to facilitate comparison and analysis of variations in part geometry. IAV is involved in the manufacture of such parts for customers making commercial vehicle diesel engines and passenger vehicle gasoline engines. It also has produced 3D printed cylinder heads for an advanced thermal management system.
According to Dolan, the 3D printed pistons helps to achieve internal geometries which cannot be achieved through conventional means. One instance he cited was of a 3D printed piston designed for a gasoline engine that had an internal honeycomb structure under the dome area. “It provides the strength needed to tolerate the cylinder pressure, and it incorporates cooling features,” Dolan explained.
Producing such unique piston concepts with the help of additive manufacturing techniques allows engineers to push the boundaries when it comes to thermal dynamics and single cylinder engine development.
Dolan said that IAV’s 3D printed metal pistons can be up to 25 percent lighter than pistons made conventionally and the company is currently investigating production applications. The chances of such an application are more likely for a lower-volume, high-content piston for a diesel engine commercial vehicle than for a passenger vehicle as the boundary conditions are a lot more severe with a diesel engine piston.
Whether 3 D printing can be used on a commercial basis or not, 3D printing is definitely of great use as part of the testing process.
“Just put yourself in the middle of an internal combustion engine development program. It’s expensive to operate an engine in a specific test cell, so when you decide that you want to change this or that based on the results, being able to get a 3D printed piston into the test cell in just a day or two days versus several weeks is very appealing,” Dolan noted.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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