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Focusing on 3D printing of vehicle transmission components

Focusing on 3D printing of vehicle transmission components

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Gerdau and Braskem have signed a partnership with the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA) and Alkimat Tecnologia to develop innovative solutions for the electromobility segment using additive manufacturing, a technology popularly called 3D printing. The project will target components for vehicle transmission systems, with the potential to leverage the expansion of the country's electric vehicle industry.

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The collaboration of organizations from distinct sectors will give the project a pioneering and complementary vision to strengthen Brazil's additive manufacturing chain. Gerdau will contribute with its knowledge in metallic materials, Braskem with its experience and knowledge in polymers, ITA will coordinate the project given its competency in manufacturing research, and Alkimat will collaborate with its expertise in 3D printing.

"Mobility is a leading trend in transformation, and solutions in the sector can make a significant contribution to resolving the challenges facing our society. At Gerdau, we believe in building networks, in open innovation and in encouraging partnerships with academia and institutions that strategically complement the effort to find disruptive solutions for the value chain," said Juliano Prado, vice-president at Gerdau and head of Gerdau Next.

Professor Ronnie Rego from ITA explains that the advent of electric mobility has shaken the order of stakeholders in automotive propulsion, and the existing gap results in the demand for disruptive solutions, rather than incremental paths. "If we Brazilians want to escape for good the stigma of technological colony, there is only one path: cooperation between academia and industry. With this alliance, we join forces to deliver to the market and to society mobility solutions that the future will demand," he said.

For Braskem, innovation and sustainability walk side by side, contributing to the building of a better future. "We are carefully monitoring various sectors whose environmental impacts can be improved and, without a doubt, electromobility brings considerable gains, especially for reducing carbon emissions. Our expertise in polymers will make a robust contribution to developing solutions that leverage this sector through additive manufacturing, helping to improve people's lives," said Fabio Lamon, global manager of Innovation & Technology for Additive Manufacturing at Braskem.

"The changes arising from the post-covid recovery will mark the "new normal," in which strengthening the local economy, with lower external dependence, will be of crucial importance. Initiatives like this, driven by companies that are references in their industries, must be adopted by everyone and encouraged by governments," said Jose Mascheroni, executive officer at Alkimat.

The potential of 3D printing
Additive manufacturing is a computer-controlled process that enables, based on a digital template, the creation of three-dimensional objects by adding successive layers of material. That explains the popularity of the term 3D printing, which, despite the huge potential of being used in industry 4.0, is very simple, and can be used either by large companies in disruptive projects, such as this case in electromobility, or by ordinary people in their homes.

In Brazil, this market enjoys positive growth prospects, especially due to the strong appeal of transformational innovation, which drives the development of innovative solutions, while also considering sustainability aspects given that it is a completely decentralized manufacturing process, which minimizes losses and the disposal of materials, not to mention the impacts on logistics.

The main advantages of this technology include the integration of functionalities, shorter lead times, the possibility of reducing weight and the freedom of design that enables the manufacturing of complex geometric objects. In this context, additive manufacturing is a major ally in the development of solutions that meet the demands of the mobility market that arise due to issues involving electric, shared and autonomous mobility.

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