A couple of years ago, I moved to Bavaria, one of Germany’s wealthiest states. Even though Bavaria has a lot of industry, when driving through the state it can happen that you only see farmland and houses around you for a long time, no matter where you look. Even the outer skirts of Munich have a lot of farmland, which I found very surprising when I first moved there. Although Bavaria is very urban, you still can see that agriculture is the foundation of the region, in addition to industry made products.
The machines used in agricultural production have to endure many different conditions and therefore must be sturdy and powerful. While they need to be sturdy and powerful to fulfil their tasks, heavy is not necessarily an attribute they need. It’s often better if the equipment is lighter, since this gives the farmers greater flexibility when it comes to choosing the right equipment for a job.
One of Germany’s most renowned manufacturers for agricultural products is Amazone. Amazone develops and produces innovative agricultural technology with a high standard of quality, enabling and supporting modern and economical arable farming methods. One product in the Amazone offering is a disc harrow that is equipped with a driving gear for on-road transportation. The central part of this chassis is a so-called “rocker arm”. With the help of Altair’s tools, Amazone has not only made a rocker arm unit lighter, but the new design of the component is also stiffer, more durable, and costs less to manufacture. The rocker arm started off as a 245kg welded part, with 16,5 m welded seams. It took a long time to manufacture and was very expensive. The company decided to explore the design of the part and the manufacturing method. Instead of welding the component, Amazone decided to go for casting and ended up with creating a casted part that was 8% lighter, more durable, and less expensive to produce while also giving customers greater flexibility when choosing add-on modules.
Amazone also came up with the idea to not only cast the part, but to combine casting and 3D printing. With this combination of manufacturing methods, they could leverage the advantages of both methods. 3D printed structures inspired by natural shapes offered lighter designs and at the same time could employ a validated, well-established manufacturing method such as casting. In the end, the final parts offered 11% additional weight savings and offered the same level of stiffness and durability as the original rocker arm.