3D printing the future for lighter engines

A team of Volvo Group engineers from Renault Trucks in Lyon has succeeded in building and running an engine with some vital 3D-printed components. As a result they were able to reduce both the number of components in the engine and the weight by about 25 %. This could lead to greater payloads and lower fuel consumption if it should reach production.

The department has focused on using metal additive manufacturing as a future engine manufacturing process. A prototype DTI 5 4- cylinder Euro 6 step C engine has been designed exclusively using 3D printing.

Although the complete engine was already designed virtually, rocker arms and camshaft bearing caps were manufactured by metal 3D printing and successfully bench-tested for 600 hours inside a Euro 6 engine.

"The aim of this project is to demonstrate the positive impact of metal additive manufacturing on the size and weight of an engine. This process has enabled us to reduce the weight of a 4-cylinder engine by 120 kg or 25%", says Damien Lemasson, project manager at Renault Trucks.

"The tests we have carried out prove the durability of engine components made using 3D printing. It's not just cosmetic."

Metal additive manufacturing opens up new development opportunities for thermal engines. This printing process, which works by adding materials layer after layer, can be used to create complex organic forms, as well as optimizing the sizing of parts and reducing the number of assembly operations and therefore the number of components in an engine.

"Additive manufacturing releases us from constraints and unlocks the creativity of engineers. This procedure is a source of disruptive technology for the engines of tomorrow, which will be lighter and more functional, thereby offering optimal performance," Damien Lemasson says.

Watch the video here.