Currently, around 60-70% of all PM structural part production is associated with components for automotive engines and transmissions. With the trend towards alternative power systems, including hybrid and full electric vehicles, a reduction in demand for such PM components is thought to be inevitable.
In the case of engine components, these would not be required at all in fully electric drives and the internal combustion engines (ICEs) in hybrid drives would be of lower capacity, requiring smaller components. Future transmissions may also ultimately be simpler, single-speed designs, reducing demand for current PM components such as synchroniser system parts.
On the other hand, the changing automotive industry offers potential new opportunities for various powder processed functional materials within the envisaged electric drives. The net balance between the level of these new opportunities and the reducing demand for some current automotive applications is clearly of significant interest to the PM sector.
As a result of this growing interest, the European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA) held its first Functional Materials Seminar at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, on April 17, 2018. The event was established primarily to consider the potential impact of vehicle electrification on the future of the PM industry and to discuss the wide variety of PM functional materials that could find applications in new electric vehicles.
This high level of interest was evidenced by the fact that demand for places at the seminar rapidly out-stripped capacity at the Jülich Centre, with registration having to be closed several weeks ahead of the event. Unsurprisingly, all of the major European PM structural parts makers and several companies from their supply chain, including powder makers, furnace manufacturers, press manufacturers and tool material suppliers, were represented among more than fifty attendees at the event
Dr David Whittaker attended the seminar on behalf of PM Review and, in the Summer 2018 edition of the magazine (Vol. 7 No. 2), reported on presentations given during the event by experts in both industry and academia. This fourteen-page article offers a comprehensive overview of developments and potential of PM in the electric vehicle industry.
The magazine is available to read for free via the embedded browser above or as a download to browse offline on your device.