Fiat Chrysler uses 3D printing for axles and pinions oil flow tests

Published on: Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is using 3D printing to evaluate oil flow inside axles and pinion carriers. The company behind Alfa Rome, Jeep, Dodge, and of course Fiat and Chrysler, is harnessing the power of 3D printing technology with a unique lube-flow test that benefits axle durability and efficiency.

Conventional methods of evaluating oil flow inside axles and pinion carriers involve cutting windows into the components and then observing the fluid's movement using a dynamometer. But with movement, oil turns milky and blocks the view afforded by two-dimensional windows.

So FCA US engineers decided to add a third dimension to the process by printing see-through plastic components exclusively for test purposes. This new technology allows correlation to virtual analysis of fluid flow.

As a result, the Company has a clearer view of axle durability and efficiency – and the road ahead.

"Efficient axles are critical to our powertrain strategy," says Jeffrey Lux, Vice President-Transmission Powertrain. "For the customer, they offer an economical way to improve total powertrain efficiency. Accordingly, we've introduced six new axle families since the foundation for FCA US was established in 2009."

The unique test is one of thousands performed daily at the Chrysler Technology Center, also known as CTC, located at the FCA US headquarters. It is the auto industry's only headquarters building where a vehicle design can go from a napkin sketch to production prototype to advertising campaign – and everything in between – under one roof.

"CTC is a key competitive advantage for FCA US," says John Nigro, Vice President-Product Development. "We have more than 14,000 people under one roof, including 7,900 engineers. That speeds the collaborative process, which is the lifeblood of our business."

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