Sealing & Flow Control In Composites & Designs with Additive Manufacturing. New material types and structures require advanced solutions for EV applications.
As electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers develop new light weighting techniques to optimize system efficiency and performance, material advancements are rapidly changing designs. Carbon fiber and nylon composites, as well as parts produced through additive manufacturing, are increasingly being used in product development. These solutions place new requirements on vital system components, such as flow restrictors, check valves and seals.In EV’s, there is a critical concern for leakage and fluid control. Additionally, lifespan expectations have increased while components are expected to require little to no maintenance. In applications such as drivetrains, battery systems and thermal management, automakers are partnering with suppliers to revolutionize designs.
“Some of the world’s most recognizable automakers are developing new manufacturing centers solely focused on advanced materials and additive manufacturing,” noted David Ramirez, Application Engineer at SFC KOENIG®. “Partnering with the right sealing and flow control supplier is critically important, as reliability is crucial, and there are strict requirements for wet and dry areas.”
While new materials are being introduced, existing challenges remain, including thin walls, complex port configurations and compact designs. Engineers are carefully evaluating components – such as port plugs, flow restrictors and check valves – to ensure performance and lifecycle expectations can be achieved.
Traditional force-fit seals can easily deform these designs, especially when new, lightweight materials are used. Expander-style sealing and flow control solutions, which evenly distribute stress in the base material, are helping designers meet many requirements.
SFC KOENIG solutions, which utilize an expansion-fit design to create a secure metal-to-metal seal, are one of the industry’s most reliable choices. These parts feature a serrated exterior sleeve which evenly expands into the bore walls, applying controlled forces that pose little risk for damage. With over 5 billion parts installed, SFC KOENIG solutions report a failure rate less than 1 part per million.
Some new materials do not easily accept machining operations, such as threading of drilled holes. Where machining can occur, it is often difficult and costly. In these applications, traditional seals, such as cup plugs and threaded screws, are not optimal solutions.
Solutions such as the KOENIG EXPANDER®, KOENIG CHECK VALVE® and KOENIG RESTRICTOR® eliminate the need for additional machining. These parts can be directly installed into the bore and require no sealant – which decreases risks for contamination.
EV designs are also increasingly being developed with additive manufacturing techniques. While effective in weight reduction, these new part structures present challenges. Instead of solid metal construction, 3D printed parts often feature a layer of solid material on the outside, which is internally supported by a honeycomb-like framework. Installation of seals and flow control components in these unique designs presents additional challenges.
“While our standard components support many new, unique materials, our precisely-controlled installation process reliably seats components in thin wall applications as well as unique base structures, such as those being produced with additive manufacturing,” continued Ramirez. “While many of these designs are years away from full-scale production, our ability to provide the very best product reliability and advanced engineering support, is providing new opportunities for automakers to advance their designs.
SFC KOENIG also offers a full line of installation solutions to provide additional control, precisely regulating installation pressures and distances. This equipment allows manufacturers to correctly position and expand seals and flow control components, and the company will also assist with automation, so automakers can easily design-in new solutions.
“EV design is advancing at a rapid pace,” continued Ramirez. “Long lifespans, complete reliability, and optimized performance is required of every component. At SFC KOENIG we are excited to partner with automakers on these advanced designs – it’s why we are recognized as the ‘Leader in Sealing and Flow Control’ – and how we will remain that leader.”