Modern cars are made up of thousands of different parts, and with technology continually evolving, the list of parts also continues to grow. There are millions of vehicles registered each year. Each one must have its integral parts manufactured and assembled in a factory, before being shipped to the destination country, where it is sold.
As a vehicle passes through an assembly line, approximately 6,000 different parts will be added to it. If a part isn’t quite right, this could cause significant issues further down the line, so manufacturers put a lot of time and effort into the parts manufacturing process.
Different Types of Car Parts
There are three different types of car parts.
OEM car parts are manufactured and supplied for car assembly production lines. Big car manufacturers like Ford manufacture parts so they are always available for the assembly line to continue operating without any delays. Delays mean money lost.
As well as brand-new car parts, manufacturers also make replacement parts for vehicles already in the marketplace. These parts are bought by garages to repair vehicles. Most manufacturers continue to manufacture parts for many years after a vehicle is first released.
Aftermarket parts are not made by the original manufacturer. These are often cheaper than OEM parts, so are popular with consumers. People working on their own vehicles will usually source aftermarket parts, such as brake pads and shock absorbers.
How are Car Parts Made?
Different car parts are manufactured in different ways. Metal parts are made using a metal forming process. Without automotive metal forming, modern cars would not look as they do. Sheet metal can be worked hot or cold. The basic processes are below:
Metal forming is an ancient skill. Before the industrial revolution, blacksmiths worked metal into the required shapes using hammers and heat. Today, the same job is done on a vast scale using specialist machines.
A blank piece of sheet metal is the starting point for many car parts. This metal is then reshaped, stamped, cut, and molded into the part needed. Presses are used to shape metal into curves. The right amount of pressure is needed or the metal won’t retain the desired shape.
Stamping presses are used to make car parts such as hub caps. Here, the metal is literally stamped into a specific shape using a die.
Drawing metal involves using a die to shape the metal. Sheet metal is pressed against a die using a hydraulic press or punch. Lubricant is used to minimize the possibility of wrinkles. Forging is also used to produce the same effect.
Extrusion processes force metal through a die to produce long tubes and rods.
The Evolution of Car Part Manufacturing
The biggest advancement in car parts manufacturing in recent years is the way computers are now being used to simulate processes, control machines, and devise better and more efficient parts. This enables parts to be created that better suit the application, as well as reducing the cost of manufacturing.
The car parts industry has come a long way in the last 100 years. Modern car parts manufacturing is changing all the time, as electric vehicles become more dominant in the marketplace. What does the future hold? We’ll have to wait and see.
*Photo by Vlad Grebenyev on Unsplash