A Major OEM
- Weight Reduction
- Cost Reduction
- Component Consolidation
- Reduced Machining
- Weld Elimination
An OEM was preparing to equip its next-generation Heavy Duty pickup trucks with an all-new, high-torque 10-speed transmission.
Initial Customer Approach
The initial concept designed by an OEM was based on traditional technology, resulting in a two-piece assembly. One component was a stamped, splined outer shell, the other a machined hot forging. These two components were subsequently laser-welded together, followed by an induction hardening operation on the spine
There were several limitations associated with the original two-piece design.
Laser welding – although an established manufacturing process – is not typically associated with improving part quality. It can also create distortion in the finished assembly, requiring critical features to be machined or re-machined after welding.
The induction hardening process required on the spline of the machined hub also comes with potential quality concerns, as well as costs.
Finally, this design also required two suppliers, with the associated increased costs relating to supplier management, tooling and systems integration.
NETFORM, collaborating closely with the customer’s engineers, proposed an entirely new process that would have major benefits over the original design concept. NETFORM offered a one-piece solution as follows: A cold-formed preform blank (utilizing a process specifically developed for the this application) would subsequently be flowformed to manufacture the splined clutch drum as a one-piece. The benefits of this process are as follows: The cold forming process developed to manufacture the preform has major advantages. During the hub forming process on the preform, the hub undergoes significant work hardening, resulting in major strength increase in the material. This allowed for the elimination of the induction hardening process, along with its costs and product quality concerns. An additional benefit gained by cold forming the preform is design flexibility. Firstly – the cold forming process allowed variation in cross sectional thickness. This allowed the engineers at the OEM to combine the two parts into one, eliminating the laser weld. Secondly, a sharp radius between the hub and the back face – that was not possible with the original stamped component – became possible with the cold forming process.
The part went into production with the envisioned improvements and cost savings were achieved. The induction hardening and laser welding processes were eliminated. The component passed all product development testing without issue and has been in production without a single quality issue for over three years.
This case study is an example of the NETFORM non-traditional approach to sales. Customer prints are starting points only, engineers are engaged to fully understand needs and requirements, and NETFORM-generated ideas submitted to the customer for consideration.