SABIC Uses 3D Printing Technology to Build a More Efficient Truck Roof

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SABIC 3D printed truck fairingSABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) operates its own Research and Technology Center which does state-of-the-art petrochemical research at the cutting edge of scientific advances in industry, and they’ve made a commitment to 3D printing technology.

The company’s success in additive manufacturing is driven in large part by the company’s holistic approach to this technology via a portfolio of high performance materials, design and processing expertise, and state-of-the-art equipment. The company does work in material optimization, testing, and designing for additive manufacturing processes, and they’ve been a part of the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) printer project. That machine was used to build the 3D printed Strati car, and they helped with process improvements in fused deposition modeling and extrusion-based printing processes.

Recently, SABIC has worked on a project to search for innovation and efficiencies in luminaire design and production which used predictive engineering and 3D printing technology to create an integrated thermoplastic.

Now SABIC has unveiled a new roof design for heavy-duty vehicles to enhance fuel economy.

This thermoplastic roof reduces drag, and the company says it is capable of raising the fuel economy of large vehicles by up to three percent. Air ducts are used to allow the roof to transfer airflow through, and past, the top and sides of its fairing, and that results in a reduction of almost six percent in the amount of aerodynamic drag created.

More than 1600 pounds of this SABIC ABS material were used to build the Local Motors Strati 3D printed car.

More than 1600 pounds of this SABIC ABS material were used to build the Local Motors Strati 3D printed car.

The company’s 3D printed roof prototype was unveiled at the Mid-America Trucking Show, and SABIC says it will provide a solution to auto makers facing stricter fuel emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks made after 2018. The new standards are slated to come into effect in the US by March of 2016.

Scott Fallon, the general manager of automotive for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business, says improving the aerodynamic performance of this single piece alone could ultimately save fleet operators millions of dollars in fuel costs each year and over the lifetime of their fleet.

“We understand that reducing operating cost is always a priority for truck operators so we’re excited to introduce solutions like this unique roof fairing concept to help them realize that goal and address evolving needs,” Fallon says.

And the savings are equally critical for various countries around the world as fuel efficiency standards clamp down on inefficient vehicles.

“Our lightweight materials can help reduce the overall weight of a truck, but those savings can be quickly offset by increased payload capacity so we are finding other ways to help the industry realize fuel economy improvements,” said Fallon. “This is where thermoplastic-based solutions can be game-changing, thanks to the design freedom they deliver to create unique and intricate aerodynamic surfaces and structures like those found on our roof fairing concept.”

The latest SABIC project used simulation technology known as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to study and compute the performance of the roof as it relates to aerodynamics.

“It was important to understand the process and what materials would help them do what they wanted to do in terms of shrinkage, strength and being able to reproduce the model,” said Scott Fisher, SABIC director of Global Application Technology.

sabic_logoThe Local Motors project used an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resin called LNP  STAT-KON AE003 which was reinforced with carbon fiber, and Fisher says understanding the properties of 3D printing has been critical to the process.

“That’s the power of using something like additive manufacturing, where you can speed up that development cycle,” Fisher said.

According to Fisher, SABIC has also recently created a project for the aircraft industry in conjunction with a design studio which resulted in a prototype seat that used just 15 parts, and for yet another project, SABIC used additive manufacturing to design and build a light-emitting diode.

What do you think about this use of 3D printing for trucks to save fuel? Let us know in the More Efficient Truck Roof forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Via: Pddnet.com]
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