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What is Lightweighting and Why is it Important?


Last updated Dec 21, 2023 | Published on May 9, 2022

Lightweighting is important to create more economical products with a smaller environmental footprint.

For decades, engineers have looked for ways to lower component and assembly weight to create greener and more economical products. As production processes and raw materials evolve, products can often be manufactured to meet performance requirements with less materials by utilizing more optimal options, or omit certain materials entirely.

Lightweighting was historically a primary concern in the automotive and aerospace industries to optimize fuel efficiency. This is leading to better battery ranges in today's modern electric vehicles and increased payloads in aircrafts. As other industries turn towards greener, more efficient, and more comfortable solutions, lightweighting is now a common goal for manufacturers and designers of consumer devices, medical equipment, and much more.

What is Lightweighting?

Lightweighting is the process of removing weight from a component or assembly. Designers and manufacturers lightweight products in one of three ways:

Substituting materials: The most common approach to lightweighting is to replace heavier materials with less dense and/or stronger materials and components. With the right design, heavy materials like metals can be replaced with thermally conductive plastics or ceramics in a thermal management solution. High density, heavy weight fiberglass insulation can be replaced with low density polyimide foam, like SOLIMIDE® Foam, in marine and aerospace applications. Engineers constantly source and formulate new materials to meet stringent performance requirements at the lowest possible weight, so reconsidering the materials used in an assembly is an important recurring focus for manufacturers.

Optimizing designs: Instead of substituting materials, another way to remove weight is by implementing different technologies or improving a preexisting design. Incorporating technology such as K-Core encapsulated graphite instead of solid metal for heat spreading or streamlining the geometry of a cold plate are both ways to optimize designs to remove weight and increase efficiency.

Eliminating materials: As production processes and materials evolve, components can often be removed from assemblies entirely while still meeting structural, flammability, and thermal requirements. This often goes together with optimizing designs, such as removing cumbersome mechanical fasteners from an assembly by using adhesive-backed foam. We leverage our extensive material selection, manufacturing capabilities, and design expertise to create multilayer stack-ups that combine multiple features into a single component, further helping to eliminate materials from an assembly.

Why is it Important?

Lightweighting has far-reaching implications for a wide variety of industries. In the automotive, eMobility, transportation, and aerospace fields, lowering overall assembly weight increases fuel or energy efficiency and lowers the total environmental footprint. In the consumer electronic and medical industries, lowering the weight of a wearable or handheld device can enhance user comfort, extend the amount of time between recharging, and reduce shipping costs. For industrial and agricultural applications, reducing weight can help increase overall payload and agricultural yield, enhancing overall efficiency and profitability.

With increasingly stringent requirements for safety, sustainability, and efficiency, lightweighting is becoming a focus for every new product. Optimizing weight can lower waste, decrease costs, and enhance product function.

The Boyd Difference

Instead of focusing on removing or substituting a single material, Boyd's engineers take an integrated approach to lightweighting challenges. Our extensive supplier relationships and innovative design support allow us to guide design decisions, resulting in lower overall assembly weight while ensuring that all performance requirements are met. Our engineers have decades of experience designing components for manufacture (DFM) and optimized assembly. Boyd's global locations also help lower overall footprint by reducing necessary transit for components and providing vertically integrated solutions.

To learn more about how Boyd can help solve your lightweighting challenges, schedule a consultation with our experts.

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