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Design Competition: 2016 Professional Winners
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2016 International Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition

Professional Class Winning Entries

Grand Prize/Transportation Category: The Wrightspeed RouteTM Electric Motor Housing by William (Bill) Davis, Wrightspeed and Rob Nelson, Almag Aluminum, Inc.

Engineered Products: Illuminator & Viewing Hood Housing by Michael Bankard, Quest-Tec Solutions

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Grand Prize/Transportation Category - $3,500
William (Bill) Davis, Wrightspeed and Rob Nelson, Almag Aluminum, Inc.
The Wrightspeed RouteTM Electric Motor Housing

The Wrightspeed RouteTM electric motor housing is used in the powertrain that “drives delivery trucks, city buses, refuse trucks, or other applications with frequent stopping and starting,” according to the competition entrants. The low-end torque and near-silent operation of the electric drive motors make it especially suited to areas where noise pollution is a concern, without compromising power. The range-extended electric powertrain completely replaces the engine and transmission in an existing vehicle. Propulsion comes from powerful, high-torque electric motors, and batteries are replenished by an on-board turbine generator. Benefits of this type of powertrain “results in less fuel use, less emissions and less battery weight on board while meeting or exceeding the performance of a conventional diesel engine,” Nelson and Davis explained in their entry materials. The manufacturer claims that the Wrightspeed system can achieve improvements as great as:

  • Up to 67% reduction in fuel consumption
  • Up to 63% reduction in emissions
  •  Up to $25,000 reduction in annual maintenance.

Currently in production in California, this Grand Prize-winning entry highlights many of the benefits of aluminum extrusion, including its lightweight design, incorporation of multiple features to eliminate downstream assembly, excellent heat transfer capabilities, and ease of fabrication, machining and assembly.

The inner dimension of the large center hollow is honed to precisely fit the electric motor assembly. The 20 hollows surrounding the part allow coolant to flow through the body of the housing providing optimal cooling. “With coolant flowing through the 20 hollows, it was suggested that serrations were added to the inside diameters of the port for an additional surface area increase of 12%,” explained the Nelson. “This also created a more turbulent flow, which contributed to more heat dissipation.”

Because it provides an optimal balance of machinability and extrudability, 6063 T65 alloy was chosen. A second profile is bonded using a structural adhesive to create a mounting feature. Small location tabs were incorporated into the body of the extrusion for assembly ease. They also help with rotational shear stresses of the part, according to the designers.

“This takes electric vehicles to another dimension with commercial application, and aluminum extrusion is perfectly suited for the motor housing,” said competition judge David Asher.

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Engineered Products - $2,000
Michael Bankard, Quest-Tec Solutions
Illuminator & Viewing Hood Housing

Michael Bankard, Mechanical Products Manager/R&D Engineer for Quest-Tec Solutions won the Engineer Products Category, with a prize of $2,000 for the Illuminator and Viewing Hood Housing used in the company’s Steam-Trac direct reading bi-color ported steam/water gauge. The gauge chamber is constructed with opposing ports at an angle so that red light will pass unimpeded through the gauge in the steam phase. When water is present, refraction will allow green light only to pass through. The result is a clear visual indication of water level, according to the company’s literature.

The use of a custom extruded assembly reduced manufacturing cost by 40%, according to the designer. The aluminum extruded illuminator and viewing hood assembly replaces a prior stainless steel design. “This product is used in conjunction with a steam/water level gauge that has a maximum operating temperature of 696 degrees Fahrenheit,” explained Bankard. “Heat build-up is highly detrimental to the LED circuit boards used inside of the illuminator. The coefficient of thermal conductivity of aluminum is such that it dissipates heat far quicker than the prior stainless steel sheet metal enclosures,” he continued. “In addition, the extrusion allowed an increased surface area (cooling fins) to be added to the design at minimum expense.”

The use of extruded aluminum for the new design provided additional benefits. “The product is available in 27 different sizes (lengths) for which inventorying all sizes of sheet metal fabricated parts manufactured for us by an outside supplier was impractical from a cost standpoint,” explained Bankard. Lead time is reduced from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days, “a huge advantage over our competitors’ lead-time”, said Bankard. The new design also reduced the number of welds for the [fabricated sheet] metal enclosures from between 30 and 120 welds (depending on the size) to zero welds. “The extruded t-channels allow all parts to be quickly bolted together and also permits replacement of the aluminum side panels should they become damaged in the field.”

The new design has one more advantage. Bankard explains, “Aesthetically, the prior design looked like something fabricated in someone’s garage; the new design with the aluminum extrusions (and some new investment castings) looks like a highly engineered product. Our sales people like that.”

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