For over 40 years, Harbec has often taken a “less is more” mentality through efforts in sustainability as well as surviving national economic crisis. Lightweighting is all about doing more with less. Why? In industries like Aerospace and defense, every pound reduced can save thousands or even millions of dollars. Reduced vehicle weight, reduces fuel costs. Minimizing part weight can also save a great deal of money in production with less material and shipping costs by reducing weight of transporting items.
Lightweighting utilizes 2 major components:
Start with a better design
How can you minimize the volume of material required for you parts? Utilizing topology and lattices, we can generate forms that are optimized for stiffness and weight based on the loads and constraints of the parts. Essentially, stripping your parts design to its simplest form while maintaining its structural integrity, and saving on cost.
Topology & Lattice Structures
Harbec’s owner, Bob Bechtold believes “lightweighting is the future of manufacturing. It is central to energy efficiency and therefore cost efficiency.” Harbec’s engineers and additive specialists utilize cutting edge software and techniques to improve on manufacturing efficiencies and part performance. That capability along with our manufacturing expertise in 3D Printing, CNC Machining, and Injection Molding as well as our experience with over 300 different polymer blends make Harbec the perfect partner to optimize your design.
This is an example of a part we designed. Utilizing lattice in the design which made it more aesthetically appealing and reduced part weight by 22%. At Harbec, we don’t use one process for everything. We have options- CNC machining, Additive Manufacturing, and Injection Molding are all available. This opens up many possibilities as well as a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We quoted this part using DMLS and CNC machining. Using CNC would be possible but would cost 20 % more and our design includes a floating ball in the center which would not be possible if the part was machined. Using Additive manufacturing would also be 4 times faster.
Selecting the right material
It is often assumed that the same material has to be utilized to get the same results, but this is not always the case. Material selection should consider the job requirement of the part in relation to its application. When your project calls for a CNC machined part, Magnesium is an outstanding alternative to steel, titanium, and aluminum as it has similar mechanical properties yet it’s 75% lighter than steel, 50% lighter than titanium, and 33% lighter than aluminum. It also has the highest known damping capacity of any structural metal, capable of withstanding 10x more than aluminum, titanium, or steel. Harbec has recently invested in fire suppression for 3 of our CNC machines specifically for machining magnesium. When weight is an important consideration, Magnesium is an excellent option. Here is an article with more information “How to Choose the Right Material for CNC Machining” from Electronics Component News.
Metal to Plastics
With the proper polymer material, mold, and process, plastics can not only meet the requirements of metal parts, but often exceed them while offering reduced costs. Plastics offer reduced part weight, highly repeatable processes (less scrap), lower manufacturing costs, greater design flexibility, and lower packaging and shipping costs. One of the most under-rated benefits of converting to a plastic is the availability of more than 25,000 engineered polymer materials that are on the market, most of which can be custom compounded to exact customer specifications. Check out this article “Thermoplastics are quickly replacing metal parts” from the Engineering Materials website.‹ Back To All News
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