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Aluminum Advances


Reducing vehicle weight is a top prior- ity among automakers, an effect of the industry’s increasing pressure to raise energy efficiency and lower CO2


emis-


sions. While using lightweight materi- als such as aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber is vital to reducing vehicle weight, OEMs also are leaning heavily on suppliers to develop new solutions for making vehicles even lighter through the use of revolutionary manufactur- ing processes and component parts that weigh a fraction of what they do in their traditional forms. Te industry is developing unprec-


edented processes in hopes of finding new ways to achieve additional weight reduction. At Shiloh Industries, we recently produced a technology that provides automakers with significant weight savings compared to traditional methods—even lightweighting existing aluminum components. Tis new technology uses a stamped


door produced from an aluminum laser-welded blank, reducing vehicle weight by 36.5% when compared to an aluminum monolithic blank. Carmakers switching from steel monolithic blanks to aluminum laser-welded blanks expe- rienced a weight savings of nearly 68%. For automakers grappling for every ounce of weight reduction and mak- ing the transition to aluminum, experts see this innovation as one way to gain traction very quickly. Even small weight savings directly equate to an improved overall fuel economy. Using a proprietary new process, we


developed the industry’s first formable aluminum laser-welded blank for mass production. It is the lightest blank in


Bernhard Hoffmann


Vice President Engineering and Technology Shiloh Industries Valley City, OH


via Laser Welding Innovation


the industry and enables carmakers to use aluminum in stampings for doors, hoods and trunk lids—areas previously incapable of being formed with an alu- minum laser-welded blank due to stress and strength requirements. Te weld


Carmakers switching from steel monolithic blanks to aluminum laser-welded blanks experienced a weight savings of nearly 68%.


in a welded blank is unlike any other weld because it requires the combined engineering of forming, welding and materials. It takes expertise in all three fields in order to develop innovative solutions that reduce vehicle weight without compromising performance. Te concept is simple but the imple- mentation is nothing short of remark-


Door Inner - Full Frame


able. Te process is able to form a blank that can be stretched in deep draws up to 150 mm by using the design opti- mization provided by aluminum laser welding. Te result: a blank roughly 2-mm thick at the hinge area and 1-mm thick across the remaining area. Shiloh President and CEO Ramzi


Hermiz challenged the team to engi- neer a stamped door produced from an aluminum-welded blank, creating an opportunity to own a unique position in the market. Te team accepted the chal- lenge head-on and a short time later au- tomakers were offered an economically smart, safe solution for mass reduction that overcomes current challenges with aluminum weld integrity. Because of our long experience with


laser welding and die casting alumi- num, the company is able to control the welding and maintain the integrity throughout the forming process. Te result is a blank with varying degrees of thickness—thicker where required for strength and structure, thinner in other areas to save weight. Tis gives automakers a leap forward in weight savings and opens the door for even wider application of aluminum in other body panels. Te development of aluminum


laser welding technology is the latest example of one company’s ability—and indeed the supplier community—to deliver lightweight solutions without compromising safety, strength, noise or vibration. Using its vast R&D resources, Shiloh is seeking the wider application of lightweight material to help auto- makers reach their fuel economy and performance goals.


Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing 37


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