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Prototypes

The entire process chain under one roof

Unique in this form in Central Europe: thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions covers the requirements for the entire spectrum of prototype body construction with its about 150 employees and the equipments at its Wadern-Lockweiler location. The entire process chain can be handled or implemented at a single location – from engineering, to forming dies, parts manufacturing, to fixtures and assemblies even the setting up a system as well as retrofitting a system.

In addition to conventional prototypes, we also offer "close-to-production Equipment" for validation. The emphasis here is on securing the forming and/or joining process of critical materials and/or geometries already in the prototype phase by using the appropriate equipment.

We utilize the existing capacities and resources on location to deliver accurate and fast conclusions  for series production. Where it makes sense, we already use series equipment in the prototype phase. The objective is to apply the knowledge gained in this phase to series production as comprehensively as possible.

Here we benefit from 25 years of experience gained in prototype construction and from the intensive exchange of Group research and development project results in the field of forming and joining technology. Because of close cooperation with thyssenkrupp Steel Europe we are tightly integrated in the development and testing of new steels and alternative materials such as Litecor and magnesium. This enables us to consistently develop our know-how, applying this in customer projects.

We support and accompany our customers from the feasibility phase to series production ready car body components and assemblies. System projects or turnkey projects, where the customer will assign prototype and series production equipment to a single contractor, are our specialty. Our engineers in prototype and series equipment construction enjoy complex tasks where they work closely together and the constant exchange of know-how leads to strong results.

We are a qualified supplier, with multiple awards, in the non-automotive sector where we are developing tools for small series production and demanding geometries of sheet metal formed parts for the sanitary sector, for tractors and for construction vehicles.

Expertize in the automotive and non-automotive sectors

Continuous further development

thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions´ Forming Dies Prototyp construction develops and builds prototype dies for the production of prototype car body molding, as well as process test and low volume dies. We have specialized in sheet metal forming, whether regardless of structural parts or exterior car body components. Be it a longitudinal beam made of high or extra-high strength steel, a SUV side panel made of aluminum, a panorama roof for minibus, or a side panel of a truck cab with sleeping compartment, we build the corresponding conventional and close-to-production prototype dies.

Prototype dies and prototypical car body pressed parts

Certificates

We manufacture conventional prototype dies from cast iron, steel and cast iron / ceramic-bound synthetics. Close-to-production prototype dies are made from steel, cast iron and higher-quality cast per the customer’s request on the basis of standard molds. We shape prototypical car body pressed parts made of all familiar sheet metal materials with our prototype dies, and cut them using lasers.

Process test dies in hot forming

Process test dies are used in cold forming or, more often, in hot forming. This means the shaping process of car body components with difficult geometries or new materials is safeguarded. The dies are built from steel or with higher-quality cast materials. The process test dies in the hot forming process can also be equipped with cooling or heating systems.

Low volume dies for the non-automotive sector

Outside of the automotive industry, we also build in prototype construction low volume dies for sheet metal forming. In the sanitation sector, these are forming dies for shower trays, wash basins and bath tubs. For tractors, there are dies for cab parts, hood strengthening and outer parts, as well as ventilation and air vents made of a variety of perforated plate variants. For excavators and wheel loaders, we mainly build forming dies for the outer shell of counterweights, and the associated attachments and lamp assemblies. Low volume dies are made from steel or higher-quality cast material depending on requirements.

Prototype body shells for entire vehicles with more than 100 fixtures

Prototype construction at thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions creates, delivers and installs individual prototype equipment, and also complete prototype body shells for the manual and semi-automatic production of prototypical assemblies, including complete prototype car bodies, and the conversion of volume car bodies to test vehicles.

This project-specific equipment and the joining equipment available at the Wadern-Lockweiler site means, we are in a position to create prototypical assemblies with all currently established joining technologies. We use state-of-the-art measurement and testing procedures for quality assurance.

Prototype assemblies - conventional or production oriented

Conventional fixtures enable assemblies for all body modules in the truck, transporter, minibus and truck cab sectors to be constructed. Supports, tension points and markers are milled in 3D. The clamps and markers are screwed to the brackets of the clamping/marker points. Components are tensioned manually using a lever with a rubber, plastic, aluminum or steel pressure piece. The 3D-milled supports and markers mean we guarantee the quality specifications for prototypical assemblies.

The process is similar for close-to-production prototype fixtures. Here we design prototype fixtures based on the series fixtures / clamping points. Together with the customer, we discuss the selection and number of tensioning points, and the Geo points important in the series process. Here too, supports, tensioning points and markers are milled in 3D in the individual part, rigged up with shims and measured. We use close-to-production fixtures both internally as well as externally at the customer site. This enables us, together with the customer, to verify and validate series joint processes, and to optimize them as required.

For prototypical assemblies, car body sheet metal parts are made in house to customer specifications, or provided by the customer. Our body shell has all joint methods currently being applied, including laser welding and soldering. In order to guarantee prototype body work relevant for crash scenarios, we use destructive test methods and carry out ultrasound testing of welding spots. This is how we guarantee quality.

Folding and edging fixtures as complete package

We develop and build folding and edging fixtures for manual folding (Eckold folders), as well as for robot folding of car body doors, hatches and fenders. For one customer, we developed a modular FlexCell as a complete package. This production cell includes a robot and two rotary tables with retainers (with repeat accuracy) for prototypical folding fixtures. This enables all relevant modules (doors, hatches, fenders, etc.) to be folded for the broad diversity of models – with a high level of success. More than 40 folding fixtures have since been delivered, installed and entered into operation for the diversity of models.

Low volume fixtures for demanding geometries

We build low volume fixtures mainly for the non-automotive sector. These fixtures are generally set up for the joining with toggle clamps. We are also able to realize configurations for semi-automatic operation.

Conversion of series car bodies to prototype car bodies

You are interested in the complete conversion of series car bodies? – No problem. For example, we have converted 150 series car bodies for the testing of different emission exhaust and drive concepts. For one customer, we converted the complete front end of a standard car body and replaced it with a new variant.