Jones, J., Kuttolamadom, M., Mears, L., Kurfess, T. et al., "Life-Cycle Integration of Titanium Alloys into the Automotive Segment for Vehicle Light-Weighting: Part I - Component Redesign, Prototyping, and Validation," SAE Int. J. Mater. Manf. 5(1):247-259, 2012, doi:10.4271/2012-01-0784.
Current vehicle manufacturers must meet economic demands and design/manufacture more fuel efficient vehicles with increasingly better performance. As a result, they are turning to the use of more non-traditional lightweight materials in their products. One favorable material due to its excellent strength-to-weight ratio and high corrosion resistance is titanium. However, to warrant the replacement of traditional materials with titanium alloys there must be the benefit of reduced vehicle mass as well as performance enhancement gains from the substitution at a justifiable cost. In this work, an unsprung suspension component is selected and redesigned from the standpoint of (i) a direct material substitution and (ii) a material and requirements consideration based substitution. In addition, for the redesign of the component in titanium, the manufacturing procedure and process plan is integrated into the design phase for the component. Following the design and analysis, the components are prototyped and tested both dimensionally and for functionality. Specifically for functionality, both static testing on a test bench and in-vehicle dynamic testing are performed. The outcome of this work is not only a feasible example of a titanium component being produced for a current production vehicle, but also a cost justified fabrication and implementation process plan from a life-cycle cost analysis standpoint, which will be discussed in Part II of this paper.