Ford Motor Company was the winner of the 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for its use of various lightweight materials to minimize weight of the 2015 Ford F-150. The Enlighten Award is the automotive industry’s first award program created specifically to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction.
Ford’s entry, one of 17 nominations that competed for the award, was selected as the winner for taking 700 pounds (318 kg) off of the Ford F-150 while improving its performance, safety, and efficiency. (Earlier post.) Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including the frame, body, powertrain, battery and interior features such as the seats. The weight savings help the truck tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, and it contributes to fuel efficiency.
High-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys were used throughout the F-150 for the first time, saving approximately 400 pounds (181 kg) from the vehicle’s body. Ford’s engineering, research and manufacturing teams overcame the challenge of shifting from the traditional steel body to the advanced aluminum production. This is a noteworthy example of taking aluminum to a high volume application.
Additionally, Ford increased use of high-strength steel from 23% to 78%. By doing so, it increased the stiffness of the frame while reducing the weight by as much as 60 pounds (27 kg).
We are happy to congratulate Ford for winning the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award. It’s encouraging to see Ford implementing a holistic lightweighting strategy, which resulted in impressive weight savings that were incredibly significant to the judging panel.—Dave Mason, Vice President of Global Automotive at Altair
This year’s first runner-up was General Motors, which developed and used innovative computer-aided engineering (CAE) methods to achieve a 163-pound (74 kg) weight reduction on the Alpha architecture of the 2012 Cadillac ATS/CTS. (Earlier post.)
Immersive lattice topology optimization, strategic structural bulkhead placement, and multi-disciplinary loadcase optimization were used, along with expert interpretation of the results, to lead the design of the architecture structure. The Alpha architecture’s delivers mass efficiency, stiffness, safety, structural feel, and has improved fuel economy without degrading on-road performance characteristics.
Second runner-up was awarded to Faurecia together with Automotive Performance Materials (APM). The NAFILean (Natural Fibers for Lean Injection Design) solution brought sustainable design to instrument panels, center consoles and door panels of the 2013 Peugeot 308 by integrating a natural, hemp-based fiber with polypropylene, which allows for complex shapes and architectures along with a weight savings of 20-25%.
The Altair Enlighten Award is intended to honor the greatest achievements in weight savings each year; to inspire interest from industry, engineering, policymakers, educators, students and the public; to create further competition for new ideas in the industry; and to provide an incentive to share technological advances.
Altair is focused on the development and broad application of simulation technology to synthesize and optimize designs, processes and decisions for improved business performance. Privately held with more than 2,500 employees, Altair is headquartered in Troy, Michigan, USA and operates more than 45 offices throughout 24 countries.