GKN has said it is committed to innovative production processes to better serve the future demands of the automotive industry.
For GKN Powder Metallurgy, the focus is on additive manufacturing, which facilitates the development and manufacture of complex components with virtually no restrictions in shape.
These new design freedoms also offer even greater opportunities for lightweight engineering – something being effectively applied to the Formula E Jaguar.
Metal 3D printing
GKN is able to fulfil the extremely high-quality demands set by vehicle makers in metal 3D printing by using only metal powders developed in-house.
Although these products are purely for OE applications, the following GKN innovations, now also available as GKN replacement parts, clearly illustrate how quickly new technologies are finding their way into the aftermarket.
The new “ballspline” sideshaft pairs excellent off-road characteristics with safe handling on the road.
Linearly arranged ball bearings deliver previously unattained plunge for outstanding suspension performance.
SUV development engineers are no longer forced to accept compromises in order to combine good off-road characteristics with car-like handling.
GKN ballspline technology delivers outstanding plunge length of up to 70 mm.
This substantial movement is facilitated by linear ball bearings with the balls running in multiple deeply cut profiles thus enabling axial displacement of the sideshaft.
The new ballspline has particular benefits in SUV applications, where the new design solves the problem of wide installation angles caused by high ground clearance, as wide installation angles can now be combined with long suspension travel.
GKN SX countertrack joints
For modern platforms, GKN has developed and patented its countertrack joints, which transmit the same power through a significantly reduced diameter.
This is facilitated by a characteristic S-shaped track profile and counter-running ball tracks – hence the name “countertrack”.
This new design delivers a reduction in internal friction, temperature and package size paired with an increase in transmitted torque and maximum articulation angle.
The substantial weight reduction delivers consumption and CO2 benefits in the development of new vehicle models. It also enables a longer wheelbase while retaining the same performance.
This provides development engineers with more interior space and improves handling characteristics.
GKN face spline
GKN’s face spline design forms positive engagement between the wheel hub and the fixed sideshaft joint via a spline on the joint’s face.
The design is referred to as “face spline” because the torque is transferred to the hub via the joint’s face.
The design is considerably less complex compared with existing shaft connections, which saves weight.
Combining this with GKN ST technology (twin ball sideshaft with s-shaped ball track) improves efficiency even further while reducing internal friction in the joint.
This hub connection is ideally suited to the high-torque turbo and electric drives of the future.
Plus, the weight saving directly at the hub not only aids downsizing, but also reduces unsprung mass.
In the case of the GKN face spline design, this amounts to around 20 per cent, which leads to a noticeable improvement in ride and handling.
Furthermore, the assembly process is simplified considerably by front fastening, ball centring and the absence of play in the connection between half shaft and wheel hub.
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