2014 Ram Power Wagon front axle, FCAUS – Engineers at the Chrysler Technology Center (CTC) are now printing transparent plastic components for test purposes, providing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) with a better understanding of axle durability and efficiency.

In conventional methods of evaluating oil flow inside axles and pinion carriers, ‘windows’ are cut into the components so that the movement of the fluid can be assessed using a dynamometer. However, movement gives the oil a milky quality and blocks the view through the 2D windows. The 3D version enables correlation with virtual analysis of the fluid flow.

“Efficient axles are critical to our powertrain strategy,” says Jeffrey Lux, vice-president, Transmission Powertrain at FCA, explaining the importance of the work taking place at the CTC. “For the customer, they offer an economical way to improve total powertrain efficiency.”

The 5.4m sq.ft CTC has been operational 24/7 since it opened in 1991 and currently employs 14,900 individuals, including 7,900 engineers. A vehicle design can go to production prototyping and beyond on the same premises.