Roll forming: Roll formed precision profiles for automobile interiors of the future
Modern cars offer ride comfort that allows passengers unprecedented freedom. A large number of assistance systems already enable semi-autonomous driving. Electrification reduces driving noise and eliminates the need for technical features, so that, the Kardantunnel that is not needed can, for example, be used for new applications. As such, the vehicle is becoming more of a mobile communication and entertainment platform or mobile office.
For many years now, the automotive supplier Schock Metal has been manufacturing special profiles and pull-out systems using in-house rollforming systems. This wealth of experience is increasingly being used by car manufacturers and their tier 1 suppliers to equip vehicles with attractive interior components. After all, today, ride comfort alone is no longer a decisive selling point. Instead, users want somewhere where they can store and charge their iPad, somewhere where they can communicate, play or work with each other while on the move, and somewhere where they conveniently store their daily consumer items such as glasses, purses, medicines, food, etc. To date, some storage compartments, e.g. the one under the roof, had to give way to sensors for autonomous driving. This is another reason why alternatives are urgently needed to provide the driver and passengers with the necessary convenience. For example, this is evident in the trend from glove compartment flaps to fully-fledged drawers.
In particular, the oddments tray has developed into a central 'island of convenience'. It no longer serves only as an armrest, but offers numerous other functions, from storage spaces and USB ports through to refrigerators for food or medicines. In addition, it is slidable lengthways between the rows of seats. The requirements for pull-out technology are considerable. This is because they relate to moving systems that are constantly in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle occupants and as such, they have to not only be as quiet and invisible as possible, but also work securely and reliably. With its highly accurate roll forming technology and a wide range of pull-out models, Schock Metal offers ideal conditions in order to meet all requirements with regard to functional safety, load capacity and the need for space. The "AIR MOTION" smooth running guides, which have been awarded the Interzum Award, prove to be particularly convenient. Because of their special product properties, they not only work in a way which is extremely smooth and quiet; they also offer significant advantages in electrified systems or components that work with external energy. For example, in the case of smooth running guides, the gas springs for a height-adjustable folding table are designed with extremely small dimensions, so that in turn, users are able to effortlessly operate the table with only a small amount of force. An improvement to the ergonomics and ultimately, quality of life is an essential corporate goal, which among other things, is reflected in the environmental policy of the EMAS-certified supplier.
As a co-engineering partner, Schock Metal also works on reducing the weight and variety of parts in every project. Special simulation software supports the engineering process for optimising the self-developed roll forming tools and roll-formed special profiles. Product design with finite element methods ensures the essential product properties in terms of material efficiency, stability and durability. The German-headquartered company sees that in terms of benefits, a key argument lies in the company's special manufacturing technology: As marketing director Daniel Hoefer explains, "With the processing available in our rollforming systems, we are able to offer our customers added value which is often unexpected". This is because the roll forming machines used at the Urbach production site work with extremely narrow tolerances as well as integrated punching and bending processes. As such, the profiles are already provided with the appropriate connection interfaces during forming, which make optimum use of the existing installation space during final assembly, thus saving weight and separate add-on parts. Upon request, in further manufacturing processes, the profile elements can be provided with a high-performance surface and then assembled into guide systems or complete components as an assembly. Engineering competencies such as the development of plastic and zinc die-cast parts, as well as in-house tooling and prototyping, accelerate the process of product development and enable customers to get their products to market faster.
Weight savings through intelligent shaping when roll forming
In the automotive industry, the possibility of weight saving is one of the most important motives for devoting resources to the topic of roll-profiled parts. After all, additional comfort should not be accompanied by a higher vehicle weight or even higher fuel consumption/CO2 emissions. Thin-walled, but stable and material-efficient special profiles represent an optimal range of benefits for this. The construction and connection of the load compartment floor in the vehicle is a current example in the automotive interior: In the absence of a suitable support on the chassis construction, this usually has to be made from a heavy material that can take high loads. The alternative is a pre-painted, special profile from Schock, which stabilises the load compartment floor and at the same time, significantly reduces its operating weight. In the production process, the pre-painted strip is processed directly from the coil and assembled on the roll forming line, packaged and delivered to the production site "just in time". Length variability is another major advantage of roll forming: Different lengths of the same profile are produced with a roller set for each vehicle model.