Partner project LightHinge+:
Additively manufactured Lightweight hood hinge with integrated pedestrian protection

EDAG, voestalpine, and Simufact present the potential of 3D printing for automotive production in their joint innovation project.

Materialica Design + Technology Gold Award

Logo Materialica Award 2017

„We are delighted to receive this award which gives us additional tailwind for our software solution Simufact Additive”, says Dr. Patrick Mehmert, Product manager Simufact Additive.


The project

Project goals

The project aims to demonstrate the practical application and the potential of additive manufacturing technologies in automotive production.

By the example of a conventional functional component (here: hood hinge), the project team used the extended possibilities of additive production (keyword bionic design) in order to rethink the component, to re-construct it and subsequently to manufacture it additively.

Project partners

AICON 3D Systems GmbH from Braunschweig, Germany, took over the measurement of the additively manufactured parts. AICON is a part of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

Project description

The EDAG engineers have re-designed the hinge system based on the results of a topology optimization in order to achieve the desired weight reduction while maintaining the given stiffness and strength. By this it was possible to determine the minimal material needed and achieve a weight benefit of 50% compared to the reference parts.

The subsequent optimization of the support structures needed for the production and the final printing of the lower and upper hinge part have been performed by the voestalpine Additive Manufacturing Center in Düsseldorf.


Simulation and distortion compensation

Simulation and optimization of the build process

An important step in the design and manufacture of additive components is the simulation of the actual printing process in a 3D printer. Here, Simufact came into its own with its specially developed software solution Simufact Additive.

With Simufact Additive, the actual printing process and the subsequent process steps such as the removal of the support structures can be simulated and thus distortions and residual stresses can be predicted.


Benefits through simulation

  • Significant reduction of the initial distortion by approx. 50% - 80% by simulation
  • Maximum distortion was halved from about 1.5 mm to about 0.75 mm
  • Further improved results possible through several simulation runs
  • No test component manufacturing required
  • No complex compensation required by measuring test components
    • Component can already be within tolerances during the first build job
    • Production time and costs are drastically reduced



Distortion compensation

Due to the concentrated heat input with high heating and cooling rates, distortions and residual stresses are generated in the part during the additive manufacturing process.
Based on the simulated distortion, Simufact has negatively deformed the component geometry in order to minimize the shape deviations of the printed hinges to the target geometry. The non-distortion-compensated hinge has shown deviations of one to two millimeters from the target geometry. Already through the first simulation run the maximum disortions could be halved.

Process steps in LightHinge+ project
Process steps in LightHinge+ project

3-dimensional measurement

In order to prove that the compensation method achieved the desired results, the non-distortion-compensated parts as well as the parts compensated on the basis of the simulation results were printed.

A 3-dimensional optical measurement by AICON 3D Systems was able to demonstrate the dimensional accuracy of the distortion-compensated parts.


The optical comparative measurements of the non-distortion-optimized original and the distortion-optimized part - here the example of the hinge lower part - clearly show the improvements: The distortion compensation is an effective procedure for the production of dimensionally accurate 3D parts.

The deviations to the target geometry can be further minimized via further iteration steps in the simulation. Expensive and time-intensive production tests can be avoided.


Sucess Story LightHinge+: Additively manufactured hood hinge

Simufact Case Study - Simufact Engineering LightHinge+ Projekt


Re-construction of a conventional hinge hood aiming at substantial weight reduction, fewer component arts, less assembly steps, and integrated pedestrian protection functionality - to be manufactured using metal additive manufacturing methods.


In order to reduce the number of try-out steps, Simufact simulated the distortions in the AM parts. By distortion compensation countermeasures the parts were produced in shorter time meeting quality goals.



Summarizing quotes

EDAG Engineering GmbH

"The LightHinge+ hood hinge fully exploits the potential of additive manufacturing by means of efficient software-assisted engineering. An ultimate weight reduction and integration of a pedestrian protection function, in distortion and self-tension optimized tool-less production with little rework for small series is achieved."

Dr. Martin Hillebrecht, Head of Competence Center Lightweight Construction, Materials and Technologies, EDAG Engineering GmbH

voestalpine Additive Manufacturing Center

"The geometries of the components resulting from the optimization of the topology require a high proportion of support structures. In the project, we have been able to reduce these to a minimum."

Dr. Eric Klemp, Managing Director voestalpine Additive Manufacturing Center

Presentation at IAA 2017

Project Partners from left to right: Sebastian Flügel (EDAG), Dr. Eric Klemp (voestalpine Additive Manufacturing Center), Michael Wohlmuth (Simufact), Volker Mensing (Simufact), and Dr. Martin Hillebrecht (EDAG)
Project Partners from left: Sebastian Flügel (EDAG), Dr. Eric Klemp (voestalpine Additive Manufacturing Center), Michael Wohlmuth (Simufact), Volker Mensing (Simufact), and Dr. Martin Hillebrecht (EDAG)

The LightHinge+ project provides an innovative and practical case employing additive manufacturing in automotive production.

Read the press release


simufact engineering gmbh

"The simulation of the build process has contributed significantly to the improved design, validation and distortion optimization of the additively manufactured LightHinge+. In this way we were able to avoid expensive and time-intensive manufacturing tests. "

Dr. Patrick Mehmert, Product Manager Additive Manufacturing, simufact engineering gmbh

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