An Inverse Design Methodology to Fabricate Low-Cost Agile Tools for Manufacturing Lightweight Automotive Components


Program overview

This project is funded by DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). AMO supports R&D projects, R&D consortia, and early-stage technical partnerships with national laboratories, companies (for-profit and not-for profit), state and local governments, and universities through competitive, merit reviewed funding opportunities designed to investigate new manufacturing technologies.

Project summary

The use of composite materials for lightweighting has been demonstrated successfully in automotive and aerospace applications, owning to their superior thermal and mechanical properties such as low thermal expansion coefficient (CTE) and high specific stiffness and strength. For example, by using composites, Boeing’s 787 dreamliner achieved 20% in weight reduction compared to conventional aluminum design.

The goal of this multi-disciplinary team of experimentalists, computational researchers, computer scientists and industrial R&D engineers is to develop an efficient, composites-based, additive manufacturing-built, low-cost tooling technology for forming of lightweight thin-walled prototype structures (metals and composites). Specific objectives are to (1) propose a composite shell-metallic core tooling approach using additive manufacturing methods; (2) develop an AI-enabled inverse design framework for integrated composite structure-material-manufacturing design; and (3) investigate the application of the AI-enabled design framework to the design and additive manufacturing of composite tool shell for prototype forming. We envision the inverse design framework will enable the discovery of new tool designs with new composites materials forms using industry-standard Big- and Medium- Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM and MAAM) technologies.

Objective/Goal Metric Minimum Stretch target Baseline performance
Reduce energy consumption Btu per production (production and lifecycle 20% 30% Energy (Btu) required for casting and machined metal tool
Reduce carbon intensity Carbon footprint (CO2-e/kg 25% 50% GHG (% carbon intensity change) of cast and machined metal tool
Recyclability Reused tool material 50% 100% Meet or exceed machined metal tool reprocessability
Decrease operating cost $/product 10% 20% Cost of formed products fabricated via cast and machine metal tool
Quality and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GDT) Defined quality surface and GDT 3 sigma 6 sigma Meet the quality and GDT standards of cast and machined metal tool
Reduce lead time Weeks 10% 20% 10 weeks lead time of cast and machined metal tool

Preliminary estimates of cumulative energy demand (CED), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and economic cost for different fiber and polymer materials.