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Advancing e-Mobility Manufacturing with Cutting-Edge Process Fluid Solutions Pascal Rival, Global Director e-Mobility, Quaker Houghton

In 2022, the electric vehicle (EV) sector saw remarkable growth amid supply chain disruptions and a challenging global auto market.

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As the automotive industry rapidly shifts toward EVs, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) face new competitive challenges. To enhance the efficiency and sustainability of manufacturing EV components, manufacturers should recognize a crucial yet often overlooked factor: industrial process fluids.

As per S&P Global Market Intelligence data, the production of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) witnessed a remarkable nearly twofold increase year over year, surging from 4.9 million vehicles in 2021 to surpassing 8.7 million in 2022. Additionally, projections indicate that BEVs and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are expected to comprise 59% of the total automotive market by 2029.

Despite market uncertainties and disruptions, automakers are intensifying their investments in EVs and setting ambitious production targets. Major consumer car manufacturers are committing to fully electric lineups within the next 15 years. Those embracing an EV strategy and increasing production have witnessed overall sales growth, underscoring the potential for EVs to drive business expansion for automakers and component manufacturers, provided they maintain streamlined and cost-effective production methods.

With Change Comes Challenge for EV Component Manufacturers

For OEMs and component manufacturers to stay competitive in this rapidly changing industry, they’ll need to transition their operations from manufacturing internal combustion engines (ICE) to accounting for EVs, hybrids, and sometimes all three. They’ll also need to work to meet ever-higher expectations for lower costs, shorter lead times and more sustainable manufacturing processes that reduce waste and emissions.

To meet these expectations, OEMs must solve various technical challenges in three key areas of EV manufacturing: battery production, lightweighting and eliminating noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Manufacturers must find efficient methods for forming battery casings while maintaining the highest degree of cleanliness. To get the greatest possible driving range from the battery, major structural components should be as lightweight as possible. That means working with different materials, new component designs and concepts, and near-net-shape manufacturing to improve downstream production. To maximize the performance quality and driving experience of the EV, manufacturers also need to eliminate noise and vibration by improving surface quality and cleanliness.

Making Progress With Process Fluids

To meet these challenges, component manufacturers invest in new machines and processes to optimize their production. While doing so, they should be sure to pay attention to the importance of process fluids. Transitioning to new equipment and operations is a perfect time to take a closer look at the industrial fluids needed for each application — because choosing the right fluid can significantly impact the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of an operation.

Industrial process fluids play a critical role in various metalworking applications, like die casting, forging, forming, metal removal, heat treatment and cleaning. The right fluid technology partner can also provide advanced solutions, like coatings, surface treatments and porosity sealants, to enhance the quality and longevity of components.

When choosing process fluids for EV production, failing to look at the total cost of ownership with process fluids can lead to major missed opportunities. Finding the optimal fluid solution will not only reduce the total cost of ownership, it can also play a transformative role in the EV manufacturing process. Here are some key EV applications where fluid solutions can significantly enhance the process. 

Lightweighting Vehicle Structures

To illustrate just how important process fluids can be, consider the trend toward mega casting. By die casting entire automotive structural parts such as a rear underbody or battery casing as one piece, manufacturers can streamline manufacturing processes, eliminating whole assembly processes and material waste, while providing a lighter-weight structure for the vehicle. Die release lubricants have a critical role to play in this process, but not all lubricants are created equal. By switching from water-based lubricants to electrostatic, water-free die release technology, manufacturers can greatly improve the cycle time, efficiency and sustainability of the process, with no wastewater or effluent, no need for compressed air to blow off the die, and less energy usage overall.

Aluminum also has a major role to play in vehicle structures for EVs because of its light weight. However, this nonferrous metal is extremely malleable, so manufacturers need effective heat treatment solutions to harden their aluminum components. The right quenchants can help optimize performance and reduce costs in this hardening process.

Eliminating NVH in e-Motors and Transmissions

For e-Motors and transmissions to run quietly and smoothly, the surface quality of each component is paramount. Achieving this with machining finishing operations requires advanced fluid solutions like high-quality mineral oils, synthetic oils or ester-based oils. Choosing the right

process fluid with stronger lubricity will not only enhance the surface quality it will also reduce the need for rework and improve production rates, energy efficiency and operating costs.

Cleanliness is important so oils and residues don’t interfere with subsequent manufacturing processes. Here, component manufacturers can significantly improve their process time and total cost of ownership with low residue, longer-lasting spray and immersion metal cleaners. These fluids offer good oil-splitting characteristics for effective metal cleaning, improving downstream processes.

Optimizing Battery Can Production

When forming battery cell casings or housings, a high-performance metal forming fluid can provide a wide range of benefits to improve production. Battery manufacturers can easily apply these fluids by spray or rolling to enhance the lubricity, die life and release of the shell from the die to reduce the rejection rate and improve overall efficiency.

Cleanliness is also a critical factor in the production of EV batteries. Minimizing residues and enhancing the compatibility with downstream assembly processes are key to success. But without the right process fluids, this demanding process can be resource- and time-intensive. Manufacturers can optimize their cleaning processes with fast-acting cleaners that minimize process time and provide long system life for fewer refills. They can also enhance the sustainability of their cleaning operations with fluids that enable low-temperature cleaning. The result is a faster cleaning process that creates less waste and uses less energy.

Advancing the Future of Mobility With the Right Fluid Technology Partner

Mobility is changing fast, and automotive component manufacturers are tasked with meeting rapidly growing demand for more affordable, more advanced EVs. Fluid solutions are an important piece of the puzzle for improving productivity, lowering costs and maximizing efficiency. But OEMs aren’t left alone to figure out which solutions will bring them the performance they need.

Partnering with an expert fluid technology provider such as Quaker Houghton, gives manufacturers the assistance they need to find the optimal solution for each application. But the right partner will deliver value that goes far beyond process fluid products — they’ll collaborate closely with manufacturers to provide technology and services in areas like operating solutions, fluid management and industry 4.0. With an expert fluid partner, EV component manufacturers can meet today's and tomorrow's challenges by improving the efficiency, sustainability, and profitability of their overall production.

About Quaker Houghton

Quaker Houghton (NYSE: KWR) is the global leader in industrial process fluids. With a robust presence worldwide, including operations in over 25 countries, our customers include

thousands of the world’s most advanced and specialized steels, aluminum, automotive, aerospace, offshore, can, mining, and metalworking companies. Our high-performing, innovative and sustainable solutions are backed by best-in-class technology, deep process knowledge and customized services.

With 4,000 employees, including chemists, engineers, and industry experts, we partner with our customers to improve their operations so they can run even more efficiently and effectively, whatever comes next. Quaker Houghton is headquartered in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia in the United States. Visit www.quakerhoughton.com to learn more.


 

Company Info

Quaker Chemical Corporation d/b/a Quaker Houghton

One Quaker Park, 901 E. Hector Street
19428-2380 Conshohocken
USA

Telephone: +1 (610) 832 7809

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