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UofL Rapid Prototyping CenterL Automotive Case Study

UofL Rapid Prototyping Center: Automotive Case Study

The design freedom of metal additive manufacturing can be used to reduce the mass of structural parts while maintaining mechanical performance. The UofL Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC) recently completed a feasibility study for a major automotive supplier. 

Current part

“TWI Graphic

The current part, fabricated by casting, serves to clamp a bearing assembly in a truck drivetrain and is subject to significant and complex loads – tensile, compressive and torsional. The challenge was to reduce the weight of the steel part while meeting performance requirements.


“Analysis Graphic

Working with the company’s engineering staff a structural analysis of the current part identified peak stress locations, critical dimensional constraints and the available design volume. The part needed to align with bolt holes in a larger structure and must not interfere with other parts nearby.


“Design Graphic 1

RPC engineers created several design concepts, removing metal in some locations and redistributing stress more uniformly through the remaining material. Some designs were simple – hollow regions within the current geometry.  Other were more complex.  The best of these provided 30% mass reduction. None could be fabricated using traditional manufacturing methods

 Prototype fabrication“Prototype Graphic

A design with internal hollow regions was selected for fabrication using RPC EOS M290 laser powder bed fusion system. While matching the external shape of the current part it offered 15% weight reduction.  Use of this design – or a more complex option – in future production will depend on a full feasibility study.

Contact information:



Phone: 502-852-0714

This article regards processes and equipment that are produced by partners with Advantage Kentucky Alliance.  Please contact us for more information, or with any questions.  Contact AKA’s Marketing Specialist (Kurt Felten) at (270) 745-3370.

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