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LIFT: Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow

LIFT: Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow
Home // Newsletter // Optimal Process Technologies Develops the “Rivet Weld”

Optimal Process Technologies Develops the “Rivet Weld”

June 1, 2016

Optimal Process Technologies (OPT) is a start-up business spun off from the University of Michigan that has developed a unique hybrid joining process dubbed the “rivet weld” technology to enable the joining of dissimilar materials. It has proven this on varieties of steel to aluminum alloys. It has offices in Ann Arbor and Plymouth, Mich. and recently joined LIFT as an SME member because of LIFT’s focus on lightweighting and the joining of dissimilar materials.

OPT Image 1 300hOptimal Process Technologies takes advantage of a relationship with Optimal Inc., an advanced engineering supplier that offers a full range of engineering services to clients in multiple industries. Some of the owners and executives at Optimal Inc. comprise the majority of equity partners with Optimal Process Technologies, said OPT Chief Operating Officer Dan Radomski.

The affiliation with Optimal Inc. is beneficial because Optimal has exceled in reverse engineering of vehicles including CAE modeling and material analysis of structures since it was founded in 1986. This minority owned business supports auto OEM and Tier One supplier competitive benchmarking and a wide range of customer product development efforts.

“We tear down vehicle components, subsystems (engines, batteries, power electronics) and full vehicles…3D scan and mesh using FEA to create a complete and reliable CAE model at a system level that allows for virtual crash test, structural analysis, NVH and more,” Radomski said. “This allows us to uncover valuable insights into the joining process of automobiles and provides us with added opportunities to uncover new techniques to lightweight vehicles.”

This knowledge allows the experts at Optimal Inc. to conduct mass reduction, and material trade-off analysis with a highly accurate CAE model. Its professionals, in conjunction with experts with other companies such as LIFT Gold member Comau and Welding Technology Corporation (WTC), allowed the organization to create a hybrid joining process that combines self-pierce riveting with resistance spot welding. Both joining operations are performed in the same manufacturing procedure, Radomski said.OPT Image 2 300w

“We can accurately control the weld melt temperature of the different alloys and control the precise temperature individually of both the steel and aluminum side to ensure a perfect bond, while simultaneously riveting the structures to encapsulate the weld spot,” he said. “We have proven this in our labs in a controlled operating environment. It’s a major advantage to be able to weld sheet metal to sheet metal, sheet to a tubing structure, or even sheet to a casting.”

Optimal Process Technologies is looking to work with other LIFT members to explore potential industry application demonstrations. “Joining steel to aluminum and other lightweight materials promises reduce weight opportunities for transportation products from automobiles, aircraft, ships, and rail, but it needs to be done in a reliable way so the joint won’t go bad due to vibration or corrosion in its operating environment,” Radomski said. “We have proven this technology in a controlled operating environment and now plan to partner with other LIFT members to validate the process in a real industrial application.”

You will find more about Optimal’s capabilities to support your company on their website