STAMPER BRINGS HEV BATTERY AND ENGINE MODULE CONCEPT TO LIFE
In search of a new metal stamping source to produce flawless precision parts, an insert molding company came to market with a prototype concept for a new visionary hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). The insert molder was seeking assistance in producing parts for their customer’s battery and engine module concept. The concept was a motor that could run on a high-amperage lithium battery and a gasoline engine that would function as an alternative to powering the battery when energy runs out. The insert molder needed prototyping of 20 metal busbars that would operate as the electrical connections for the battery and engine module. To do this, they required a world-class supplier to engineer and produce effective, error-free parts and integrate with their overmolding process. After being turned away time and time again by metal stampers who couldn’t help when approached with this idea, they came across Wiegel Tool Works who was perfectly capable of producing the parts for the unique concept.
All requested busbars were designed with dissimilar thicknesses, required gold plated features and needed to be integrated into an overmold process to produce a final assembly. These design requirements presented Wiegel Tool Works' engineers with several unique challenges: (1) producing parts to print uncovered several feasibility issues with the design and would require timely and costly downtime, (2) the material costs for various part thicknesses were considerably high, (3) the involvement of an additional tier partner would be required to apply selective plating and (4) complex tooling was required to produce the parts and integrate with their customer’s overmold process. With their qualified team of engineers, tool makers and production experts, Wiegel Tool Works was able to tackle these challenges, make appropriate suggestions for the design considerations and find a solid solution for an idea that seemed nearly impossible for competing suppliers.
The first design consideration –
The base material of the busbars was required to be 1 mm thick; however, a few busbars needed to be as thick as 4 mm to pull and transfer more electricity throughout the module. Additionally, all the busbars needed to be as thin as 0.63 mm for the connectors and the universal plug to join.
Wiegel Tool Works suggested combining two selected materials with different thicknesses together instead of using one base material to meet the requirement of producing the thickest busbar at 4 mm. They also identified using a coining technique in the stamping process that would help to thin the material down from 1 mm to 0.63 mm thick on all the parts where the electrical connectors and the universal plug would make connection. This solution sustained the appropriate conductivity required for the program, allowed proper connection between the busbars and universal plug and the new selected materials dropped the overall material cost tremendously. The new material combination also yielded a more suitable temper, allowing for greater strength, bendability and formability during the stamping process.
The second design consideration –
The busbars required selective gold plating.
In cooperation with one of their top electroplating sources, Wiegel Tool Works identified that gold plating only the tips of the parts would reduce the amount of gold usage and would maintain enough conductivity for the electrical connection. The limited gold application yielded an additional cost savings for prototype and serial production of the parts.
The third design consideration –
The busbars were required to fit securely into a plastic overmold.
After understanding the desired function and design of their customer’s final working assembly, Wiegel Tool Works engineers were able to design and produce specific part features and a custom in-line tool and die with overmold process considerations in mind. Wiegel Tool Works conformed the stamping process to comply with their customer’s secondary overmold process and built a versatile tool that could run in both Wiegel Tool Works’ and their customer’s in-line manufacturing operations. Wiegel Tool Works also designed special locking mechanisms on the parts to firmly adhere to the plastic overmold and produced the parts with required hardware. Wiegel Tool Works worked diligently with their customer to test feasibility and ensure production from both ends of the process worked collectively to produce the complete assembly successfully.
When it comes to producing precision metal stampings for the automotive industry, following strict requirements and making favorable suggestions for design during early stages of development is key to ensuring quality production and the proper function of parts at their end use. To ensure the procurement of perfect parts and production at a competitive price, it’s important to choose a leading stamped parts supplier like Wiegel Tool Works who has the experience and knowledge for the standards and careful requirements upheld in these types of automotive programs. Like Wiegel Tool Works, a great stamping supplier should also be effective at identifying ways to save their customers money prior to serial production.
By placing trust and confidence in the expertise of Wiegel Tool Works surrounding a project of high confidentiality, an insert molder was able to produce electrical connectors and a complete assembly for their multi-million-part program. They obtained Wiegel Tool Works’ suggestions in design configurations and enhanced the functional properties of their parts. The design modifications made production practical and achieved significant manufacturing cost savings during prototype and production phases. The insert molder also acquired custom complex tooling developed by Wiegel Tool Works that aligned the stamping and overmold processes seamlessly.
This manufacturing opportunity enabled Wiegel Tool Works to create a successful program solution for their customer and led this battery and engine module prototype concept to becoming the final presentation for a leading automotive OEM. The unique concept was later elected to be used in the production of one of the first plug-in electrical vehicles sold in the U.S.
About Wiegel Tool Works, Inc.
Wiegel Tool Works, Inc., located in Wood Dale, IL, provides metal stamping services such as high-speed stamping, heavy metal stamping, engineering support, in-house tool making and automated assembly of parts. Operating on 187,000 sq-ft in 4 manufacturing facilities, Wiegel Tool Works uses the latest in metal stamping equipment and quality assurance technology. They operate state-of-the art Minster and Bruderer brand punch presses and deploy in-line vision and sensor equipment throughout their facilities to ensure only precision quality parts leave their presses. Wiegel Tool Works also offers production capabilities with Bihler multi-slide forming technology supported through MSA-Wiegel N.A., a company in which they formed in partnership with M.S.Ambrogio S.p.A. Wiegel Tool Works is IATF certified and serves a wide range of industries around the globe with their most demanding customers operating in the automotive sector. They produce a variety of copper-based, precious metal and ferrous metal components such as busbars, lead frames, terminals, battery cable connectors, brackets, rolled bushings, press-fit pins, shielding components and more. When sourcing for precision metal stampings, many leading automotive manufacturers choose to work with 77-year-old Wiegel Tool Works due to their strong reputation for consistent production of high-quality parts and stature for exceeding customer expectations with engineering support and final delivery.
For more information visit www.wiegeltoolworks.com