The Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Wheels Task Force recently presented the results of its latest lightweight steel wheel project. The analysis developed a new steel wheel design solution that is equivalent in mass to a comparable aluminum wheel, but at a 30 to 40% cost saving. SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute.
|Lightweight steel wheel concept. Click to enlarge.|
This project applied concept design and analytical methods to an existing high-volume wheel to achieve a lightweight design that can be adapted to various vehicle platforms. The overall process applied included:
Topology/topography optimization that provided design inspiration for aesthetic shapes and spoke patterns; definition of the optimal wheel construction from a choice of full face, bead seat and drop well wheel; and definition of the optimal load path shape for the chosen number of spokes.
Gauge and shape optimization to refine the wheel geometry to maximize performance while minimizing mass.
Consideration of a wide range of materials including advanced high strength steels.
Final material selection of SAE J2340 490Y grade steel for both rim and disc.
Ideation and depiction of alternative accessory wheel trim and dress items options.
The results of this study provide a lightweight design methodology in a format that can be used by automotive wheel designers to help improve designs at a significantly reduced weight and cost.
Funded by members of SMDI’s Wheels Task Force, the steel wheel project engineering work was conducted by Troy, Mich.-based Altair Engineering, Inc.