Making One of the Smallest (and Funnest) Cars Even Lighter

By all accounts, the Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) is a great car: it’s efficient, eco-friendly, cost-effective and – let’s face it – really fun to drive.

So how can we make a great car evengreater? By making it inherently moreefficient, more cost effective, and more…well, you get the point. And we dothat by making the Arcimoto FUV lighter withoutraising production costs and while actually improvingperformance. This is the essence of XponentialWorks’ recently-announced relationship with Arcimoto. Here’s how we made ithappen:

But First…A Lightweighting Primer

Why lightweighting? Simple. The FUV, and other vehicles, are designed to move people or goods from point A to point B. The best vehicles do so while expending minimum energy, and maximizing safety, comfort and performance.

It’s no secret that there’s a correlation between the efficiency of energy expenditure and the weight of the object being moved – thus the industry’s overriding impetus to lightweight. Add to that the safety benefits of stronger and lighter materials, and the performance advantages of lighter vehicles – and the motives are crystal clear.

How is it done? Traditionally, lightweighting is accomplished either through material reduction or material substitution – the goal being toaccomplish the same function with the same amount of a lighter material, or less material, or both. Lightweighting parts by material substitution (for example, changing metal parts for plastic or carbon-fiber) has been happening for years, of course. For Arcimoto, we chose to pursue a material reduction strategy.

The What of the Arcimoto Project…

Arcimoto teamed up with XponentialWorks, who leveraged tech from our  portfolio company ParaMatters and our vast ecosystem of additive manufacturing capabilities. In a powerful demonstration of the combined power of generative design and additive manufacturing to compress time and cost to market, XPW set out to redesign and lightweight components of the company’s FUV. The object was to improve performance and efficiency, as well as to make the vehicle even more environmentally friendly.

…And the How

Lightweighted part designs were created leveraging AI-powered generative design tools and then 3D printed. ParaMatters’ cutting-edge generative design software uses the power of machine learning to create structures that are much more efficient – in part owing to their similarity to natural or organic structures – yet offer the same performance as traditional parts. Engineers simply need to enter design goals and material parameters. The AI explores nearly infinite design permutations based on the design concept, and provides an optimal solution to lightweight parts. ParaMatters’ solutions also automatically combine different parts into a single homogeneous assembly instead of creating multiple parts that need to be manufactured and then assembled.

Carried out in just four weeks, the FUV project produced parts that effectively replaced heavier, regularly-manufactured parts. These lightweighted parts enable the FUV to drive farther on a single charge, accelerate faster, and handle better – all the while actually lowering production material costs. And we’re talking about a serious weight reduction. Notably:

  • Rear swing arm:             Lightweighted by 34%
  • Knuckle:                        Lightweighted by 36%
  • Upper control arm:          Lightweighted by 52%
  • Brake pedal:                  Lightweighted by 49%

The Bottom Line

The winning combination of AI-generated designs and industrial-scale 3D printing brought the power of complex structures to bear on the lightweighting of the FUV’s components – delivering higher vehicle performance at lower production costs. This provides massive benefits for Arcimoto and its customers – allowing them to get the most out of their vehicle by spending less time charging and more time…having fun!

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