Material Selection For Automotive Spaceframes EssayAluminum usage in automobiles and light trucks has been climbing steadily. Even more important, auto manufacturers are beginning to see aluminum the way aircraft manufacturers do – as the basic structural material for their vehicles. Increasingly, in the case of carmakers, that thinking begins with an aluminum body structure such as the spaceframe. It’s a new and potentially powerful trend.
As recently as 1990, there were no aluminum-structured passenger cars in production anywhere in the world. The closest thing was theHMMV (Hummer), at that time strictly a military vehicle. As of 1997, there were seven aluminum-structured passenger cars in production. For three of them – Audi A8, Plymouth Prowler, and GM EV-1 – Alcoa has beenthe principal partner in designing, engineering and manufacturing aluminumcomponents, subassemblies, and – in the case of the Prowler – the frame itself.Order now
And that’s just the beginning. A concept car with a modular spaceframe in technology reviews held for Ford and Chrysler, Alcoa unveiled a vehicle concept embodying ideas for future cars and light trucks. The design is based on a spaceframe structure comparable to those Alcoa has helped to develop for the Audi A8 and Plymouth Prowler. But in the concept vehicle, the spaceframe is modular, a step toward using such structures in a broad range of future vehicles. By changing modules, a carmaker could produce a sedan, a sport utility vehicle, and a pickup truck, all from a single production platform. New programs with Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Alcoa is producing the front energy management structure for the new Mercedes-Benz A-class car (above) now selling in Europe.
This 11-piece structure was designed by Alcoa and is robotically assembled at Alcoa’s plant in Soest, Germany. Production volume is expected to reach 1,000 units per day. For Chrysler, an aluminum rear crossmember designed and manufactured by Alcoa improves the handling and noise-vibration-harshness performance of the all-new 1998 Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde as well as the 1999 Chrysler LHS and 300M models. AAS will manufacture 270,000 units per year at its Northwood,Ohio plant. Something new around the windshield.
A key advance incorporated in the 1997 Corvette is a first-of-its-kind windshield surround developed in a design and engineering collaboration of General Motors and Alcoa. An effective combination of aluminum cast and extruded products makes this an extremely stiff structure, helping the new Corvette to earn excellent reviews for its stiffness and superior handling. Northwood will produce 25,000 windshield surrounds annually. . Design tools to aid in product developmentNew guidelines for use in designing automotivecomponents have been installed at AAS operationsin Esslingen, Germany; Southfield, Mich; and Alcoa Technical Center (ATC) nearPittsburgh. Developed by AAS and ATC, the guidelines will assist automotiveengineers in evaluating product design and fabrication options.
Objectives: Improvedesign quality and cut development time by 30%. Audi A8 is picked as a technological winnerIn December, the Audi A8 was named oneof the top 25 Winning Technologies byIndustry Week (IW) magazine in the U. S. The editors report: The 1997 Audi A8 withits aluminum spaceframe body technologyindicates what is possible when the statusquo in materials is challenged in automotivedesign.
The luxury sedan delivers a newstandard in weight savings, structural integrity, safety, performance and comfort. IW traces the origins of the Audi spaceframe to an early 1980s R initiative thatbecame a joint-venture with Alcoa. The spaceframe took 10 years to develop, theeditors note, and is the result of 40 new patents, seven new aircraft-gradealuminum alloys, and extensive design analysis via supercomputers. Alloy A substance with metallicproperties, composed of two or morechemical elements of which at least one isa metal. More specifically, aluminum plusone or more other elements, produced tohave certain specific, desirablecharacteristics.
Alumina Aluminum oxide producedfrom bauxite by an intricate chemicalprocess. It is a white powdery materialthat looks like granulated sugar. Aluminais an intermediate step in the productionof aluminum from bauxite and is also avaluable chemical on its own. Aluminum Spaceframe Anintegrated structure of aluminum castingsand extruded parts that forms theprimary body frame of a new generationof automobiles. Bauxite An ore from which alumina isextracted and from which aluminum iseventually smelted.
Bauxite usuallycontains at least 45% alumina. Aboutfour pounds of bauxite are required toproduce one pound of aluminum. Brazing Joining metals by flowing athin layer of molten, nonferrous fillermetal into the space .