At the IZB suppliers’ trade fair, Gestamp, the Spanish multinational specialized in the design, development and manufacture of metal components for the automotive sector, has presented an innovative prototype of a battery box for electric vehicles to be fitted on hot stamped structures.
Repairability is one of the main innovations of this joint-development carried out in collaboration with Volkswagen. The unit consist of modules that support various battery cells. In case of failure in a cell this design enables the entire module to be changed faster and more safely, thus avoiding direct contact with the cells and the electrical part of the system.
Furthermore, the new prototype is scalable, based on a platform project according to which units need to be used by different models, thus highlighting Gestamp’s ability to provide its customers global solutions, thanks to its presence on the major automotive markets. In this way, the design of the Gestamp battery box, initially conceived to be fitted onto the Volkswagen MEB platform, would be the first produced for large volumes of vehicles.
The battery box meets the highest standards of safety requirement in the event of collision, as well as specific regulations concerning impact, emissions and required sealing. Indeed, the Gestamp battery box is a multi-material solution made of high-strength steel, composites and aluminium.
“The biggest challenge for Gestamp was to achieve full compliance with regulations in Europe, China and the United States, in terms of the characteristics to be met by battery boxes. It is a critical item in electric cars as it involves a series of parts, such as the battery and battery cooling, which are obviously of vital importance in this type of engine”, explained Ignacio Martin, Director of Research and Development BIW at Gestamp
‘Soft-zone’ - the state-of-the art technology in hot stamping
Gestamp also presented at IZB a range of new developments in hot stamping based on the Group’s own ‘Soft Zone’ technology, which manages to integrate different attributes into the same part. This technology is particularly suitable to create lighter structures with controlled deformation for electric cars and compensate for the increased weight of the batteries.
On the one hand, Gestamp presented its ‘soft zone snake design’, unique on the market, which is used in parts known as front and rear rails, i.e. the parts of the structure that absorb much of the energy in the event of a crash, thus protecting the passenger cabin and the battery box in electric cars. This ‘soft zone’ technology with very small areas allows for greater control in the event of an impact, so that the body structure deforms and bends in a joint kinematic.
On a second front, Gestamp introduced its ‘soft zone & flanges’, which uses the same technology in small areas to enable assembly between steel and aluminium. In fact, this solution has been used for the B pillar in the Audi Q7.
“This innovation allows us to provide very significant improvements in safety of vehicle occupants by ensuring that the part deforms along a pre-defined plane, thus providing maximum control over the impact” Martin pointed out.
An innovative control arm
Within the chassis components, Gestamp presented an innovative front lower control arm with an integrated ball joint solution. The singularity of this concept is that the ball joint is integrated with a plastic overmolding process, which enables a weight reduction and more precise technical characteristics.
The presented arm improves the utilization of the limited package in the brake device area by integrating directly the ball joint in the welded assembly, without additional components. The assembly, produced out of cold formed high strength steel is already in serial production in the Gestamp Bielefeld facility and combines the lightweight design with the fulfillment of the highest crash performance requirements.
Aluminium door with electric opening
Gestamp’s Body in White Division, in collaboration with Edscha, specialists in mechanisms, also presented an aluminium door at IZB that combines high-strength steel with electric opening mechanisms. Furthermore, the Edscha hinges on this comprehensive concept are made of high strength aluminium.
Edscha also presented the ‘stopped door, which prevent the door from colliding with obstacles. It is an intelligent solution that uses the doorstop and sensors to detect objects. In that way, the door can be deliberately and accurately opened to just before an obstacle. On the other hand, the system stops the door in time before it hits an object, thus providing greater protection of the vehicle´s aesthetics.