Applications – Power train – Transmission and drivelineTable of contents9 Transmission and driveline. 29.1 Driveline concepts. 39.2 Transmission. 49.3 Housings for driveline components. 79.4 Aluminium drive shafts. 109.5 Aluminium fasteners . 14Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])1

9 Transmission and drivelineSignificant amounts of aluminium are not only applied in the engine, but also in the rest of thepowertrain, i.e. in the transmission and the various driveline components. Most important aluminiumapplications are the various housings, but aluminium is also used for different functional components(e.g. hydraulic components of automatic transmissions, drive shafts, etc.).Aluminium is mainly chosen for its lightweighting effect. Further decisive factors are its excellent heatdissipation characteristics, the very good machinability of aluminium alloys as well as the feasibility toefficiently produce highly complex, thin-walled components. Most aluminium housings for applicationsin transmission and driveline are produced by high pressure die casting, but also other sophisticatedcasting techniques can be applied.An important competitor of aluminium for lightweight housings is magnesium. Magnesium alloys arehighly suited to manufacture thin-walled parts in very complex geometries by high pressure diecasting. Thus, for housing applications, magnesium offers a weight reduction over aluminium of aboutone third. Magnesium has all the mechanical and physical properties needed for this application. Apartfrom cost issues, the big remaining problem is the corrosion resistance which requires the selection ofspecific magnesium alloys with a closely controlled impurity content. On the other hand, aluminiumscrews are necessary to ensure that housing sections, brackets and stiffeners made from magnesiumcan be securely fitted and assembled (see section “Aluminium fasteners” below).Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])2

9.1 Driveline conceptsThe driveline of a motor vehicle consists of the parts of the powertrain excluding the engine and thetransmission. The configuration of the driveline, i.e. the portion of the powertrain after thetransmission, depends on the various choices of wheels to be powered by the engine: front-wheeldrive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.In a vehicle with a front-wheel drive system, the engine, the transmission and the drivetrain are alllocated in the front and thus, there is more passenger space in the cabin. This type of driveline has areduced complexity since all components are close to each other leading to a more compact design.On the other hand, it means that the vehicle's major weight is concentrated in the front. Rear-wheeldrive vehicles usually offer a better balanced weight distribution and therefore superior braking andhandling performance.The all-wheel drive is the most sophisticated driveline available today. Modern all-wheel drive systemshave fluid-filled differentials and advanced electronics which enable to send power equally to all fourwheels or to transfer torque into the wheels with most traction. The all-wheel drive configuration canalso be designed with a bias to either the front or rear wheels. As a result, the driving dynamics arevery much improved. It must be differentiated by full time and part time all-wheel drive. A part-time allwheel drive vehicle is essentially a two-wheel drive. Once there is a loss of traction, the power is sentto all the four wheels by a hydraulic, mechanical or electrical switching system.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])3

9.2 TransmissionThe transmission (gearbox) is one of the central components of every vehicle. It adapts the output ofthe internal combustion engine to the drive wheels and allows the vehicle to accelerate from rest tohigh speed by changing gears while the engine operates within its most effective range. Thetransmission is generally connected to the crankshaft of the engine through the clutch. The clutch isneeded to disconnect the engine when the car is stopped and to smoothly engage the spinning engineto a non-spinning transmission. The output of the transmission is transmitted via the driveshaft to oneor more differentials, which in turn drive the wheels.Manual 6-speed transmission for front wheel drive cars (left) and all-wheel drive cars (right)Source: GetragThere are two primary options: manual and automatic transmissions. Whereas in case of manualtransmissions, the application of aluminium is usually limited to the gearbox (transmission housing),automatic transmissions offer additional application potential. Automatic transmissions use hydraulicsto select gears and rather than using a clutch, i.e. a fluid flywheel or torque converter is placedbetween the engine and the transmission. Furthermore, modern automatic transmissions usesophisticated electronic control systems.Six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission for high torque front-transverse transaxleapplications (left) and seven-speed in-line variantSource: GetragThe high functional density of modern automatic transmission systems, whose size is virtually limitedby existing packaging restrictions, means that the individual components have to fulfill more functions.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])4

This causes high demands on the development of the housing and the other components as well ason the planning of the entire production process.As an example, in case of the ZF 8 HP gearbox housing shown below, all production steps – fromcasting to mechanical machining, from deburring to inspection of the finished part – take place in afully automated production line. The oil ducts in the ditch plate and valve body must meet very hightolerance requirements in order to achieve the short shifting times and high shifting precision of thetransmission. The gearbox housing has to be provided with cast oil ducts through which hydraulic oilflows when it is in operation. To avoid expensive drilling on the unfinished component, concealed steeltubes are cast into the housing as oil pipes. Depending on the transmission version, robots locate oneor two tubes automatically in the die before the melt flows in.Gearbox housing for the ZF 8 HP automatic transmissionSource: HonselMechatronics module for automatic transmissionsSource: ZFVersion 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])5

The mechatronics module combines the electronic transmission control unit and the hydraulic shiftingdevice as a single unit within the transmission. The electronic transmission control unit uses dataregarding the driving conditions and behavior which are collected by sensors to ascertain when thedriver would like to shift gears, to determine which gears are needed and when would be the bestmoment to change gears. The hydraulic shifting device is then responsible for implementing thosechanges.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])6

9.3 Housings for driveline componentsThere are several components within the driveline where aluminium is used, again preferentially forhousings. Most important are the housings for the differential, i.e. the device that splits the enginetorque two ways, allowing each driven wheel to spin at a different speed. All-wheel drive vehicles needa differential between each set of drive wheels, but they need one between the front and the backwheels as well, because the front wheels travel a different distance through a turn than the rearwheels.Front axle drive unit for use in SUVsSource: ZFThe front axle drive unit is mounted on the subframe via an integral rubber support and is locatedoffset sideways adjacent to the internal combustion engine. The support tube fitted at the side is usedon one hand for mounting the front axle drive unit and on the other hand facilitates arrangement of thedriveshaft interface to suit the available installation space.Front axle drive unit for use in all-wheel drive vehiclesSource: ZFVersion 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])7

The shown front axle drive unit achieves a small installation width by the longitudinal partition of thealuminium housing. The drive unit is mounted to the side on the internal combustion engine.Power take-off unitSource: ZFIn an all-wheel drive vehicle with front transverse drive and transmission, the power take-off unittransfers the torque to the rear axle. It is responsible for delivering maximum performance in a verytight space.Rear axle drive unit for passenger cars with standard drivelineSource: ZFThe rear axle drive unit with integral mounting brackets and rubber support for a standard drive lineconsists of an aluminium housing with a transverse split line which has been specially designed to fitthe available installation space.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])8

Rear axle drive unit for passenger cars with permanent all-wheel driveSource: ZFIn all-wheel drive vehicles, it is possible to design the rear axle drive unit in an appropriately small sizedue to the distribution of the torque between the front and rear axles. In conjunction with thealuminium housing, this leads to a very low weight.Vector Drive rear axle drive unitSource: ZFFor improved driving dynamics, the Vector Drive rear axle drive allows a controlled uneven torquedistribution between the two drive shafts by the electromechanically actuated multi-disk brake of themodulation transmission. The right- and left-hand wheels then accelerate at different speeds and thevehicle is given additional steering. This “screwing motion” lends support to the vehicle steering andstabilizes the car during sudden swerving without having to apply any of the wheel brakes.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])9

9.4 Aluminium drive shaftsThe drive shaft (propeller shaft) transfers the power produced by the engine from the transmission tothe rear axle or front axle. The drive shaft is an assembly of one or more tubular shafts connected bycardan joints, constant velocity joints or flexible joints. The number of tubular pieces and jointsdepends on the distance between the gearbox and the axle and/or the presence of under-bodyfeatures (e.g. exhaust pipes) that need to be negotiated.On some four-wheel drive vehicles, one drive shaft is used to power the rear wheels (as in a rearwheel drive) and a second drive shaft is used to power the front wheels. In this case, the second driveshaft is placed between a transfer gearbox and the front axle.Aluminium drive shaft, evaluated for BMW 5 series modelsDrive shafts are made from steel, aluminium or composite tubes connected by steel or aluminiumlinks. The application of aluminium in drive shafts is most interesting for rear wheel or all-wheel drivecars, both for the tubes as well as for the cardan links. The reason for using lightweight materials indrive shafts is the reduction of inertia forces as well as vibration damping. The fact that all parts haverotational symmetry and that friction welding permits joints between aluminium and steel has resultedin drive shafts consisting of seam-welded aluminium tubes and forged steel (or aluminium) cardanjoints. The slightly increased diameter of aluminium drive shafts leads to their preferred application inSUVs and other type of vehicles where sufficient under-body space is available and packagerestrictions are not as severe as in standard passenger cars. Both extruded and longitudinally weldedaluminium tubes can be used. Cardan joints are generally forged aluminium components.Forged aluminium cardan jointSource: Otto FuchsVersion 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])10

Drive shafts are available in one-, two- and three-piece designs with various options for intermediatebearings, slip devices, crash optimisation, vibration damping and plunge capacity.One-piece front drive shaftSource: GKNThis type of drive shaft is typically used in four-wheel drive vehicles, usually light trucks and SUVs, todeliver torque from the transfer case to the front differential.One-piece aluminium rear drive shaftSource: GKNRear-wheel drive vehicles require a longer drive shaft from the transmission to the rear differential.The aluminium tube, welded to steel stub shafts, is used in order to keep weight to a minimum. Thebenefits of a one-piece drive shaft include the elimination of a center bearing and the associatedhardware. Noise, vibration and harshness are all improved, manufacturing and assembly are lesscomplicated and the reliability is improved.Two-piece rear drive shaftSource: GKNVersion 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])11

This is the most popular rear drive shaft configuration for rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. Itincorporates a bearing and support in the centre and can be designed to include a variety of crashfeatures. The three joints used in this type of drive shaft are selected specifically to suit the plunge,angle, NVH and crash requirements of the vehicle.Three-piece drive shaftSource: GKNThree-piece drive shafts are increasingly used in sophisticated rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicleswhere the highest levels of NVH refinement are required and where the drive shaft has to fit within acomplex vehicle under-body layout.Crash optimised drive shaftSource: GKNThe crash optimised shaft embodies a predictable progressive fracture behaviour on impact, thusreducing the risk of injury and damage to critical vehicle safety features. Crash optimisation isaccomplished by designing the drive shaft to meet all requirements from low load/low energyabsorption to high load/high energy absorption. In particular, drive shafts in aluminium and compositefibre can be produced to provide the specific energy absorbing characteristics.Drive shafts for special applications are made from aluminium Metal Matrix Composite MMC) material,e.g. an aluminium matrix reinforced with boron carbide. The use of aluminium MMCs allows to raisethe critical speed of the drive shaft by further reducing the inertia. Other possibilities are offered bycomposite drive shafts based on aluminium tubes, e.g. a graphite/fibreglass/aluminium tube. Suchconcepts are developed as a response to the industry demands for greater performance andefficiency.Today, the majority of the drive shafts are still made from steel. Aluminium and aluminium compositedrive shafts are used when their specific advantages, in particular their lower weight (inertia), can befully exploited and their installation does not present any additional problems.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])12

Composite drive shaftSource: StrongwellThe lightweight, one-piece driveshaft featuring fibreglass/carbon fiber reinforced vinyl ester pultrudedover an aluminium tube was applied on General Motors 1988 model GMT-400 pickup trucks.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])13

9.5 Aluminium fastenersIn certain automotive applications, the use of magnesium instead of heavier materials is anestablished lightweighting measure. Magnesium is generally used for die cast components, inparticular for housings, but also structural parts. Thus there is a need for fasteners and screwfasteners to join magnesium parts together, but also with aluminium and/or steel parts.Magnesium elements place special challenges on screw fastening. When steel screws are used, thelow rigidity values of the backing run and the nut thread require deep penetration depths or large headsupport surfaces. This creates screw lengths than can rapidly counter the weight advantage gainedfrom the material. The very differing heat expansion characteristics of the combined materials can alsoquickly result in loss of clamp force, putting the functional properties in jeopardy. Contact corrosionplaces a further burden on the quality of the fastening. Furthermore, relaxation processes can lead toloss of clamp load, particularly where the location of the fasteners is subjected to a high temperatureloading. This is caused by the higher expansion coefficients of magnesium against steel. Magnesiumapplications in engines and gear boxes are subjected to temperature changes between -30 C and150 C. Thus when steel screws are used, the screw fastening is subjected to a thermally inducedadditional load, which then normally results in a relaxation process in the magnesium part creating adrop in clamp load at higher operating temperatures.For applications with magnesium, aluminium alloys fasteners offer definite advantages over steelscrews. These include substantial weight savings, high connection strength, lower loss of clamp loadwhen subjected to temperature cycles, avoidance of galvanic corrosion and appreciable potential forsaving costs. In contrast to steel screws, additional corrosion and surface protection measures aremostly unnecessary.Aluminium screw in a magnesium partSource: RibeAluminium screws are approx. 65 % lighter than steel screws of the same design. The smaller lengthof thread engagement of the screw reduces the amount of material used for the connection, whichalso offers extra weight advantages. For example, the use of aluminium screws in a magnesiumgearbox can save up to 500 g in weight.Aluminium screws are generally made from Cu-containing AlMgSi alloys, e.g. EN-AW 6056. Anoptimum heat treatment process combines high mechanical strength with good ductility and highcorrosion resistance. Ultra-high strength AlZnMgCu alloys have also been tested successfully, but arenot yet applied in practice.Version 2011 European Aluminium Association ([email protected])14

drive vehicles usually offer a better balanced weight distribution and therefore superior braking and handling performance. The all-wheel drive is the most sophisticated driveline available today. Modern all-wheel drive systems have fluid-filled differentials and advanced e