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22 01, 2015

Pride Swaps Steel For Aluminum In Industrial Vehicles

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 22nd, 2015|

From Ford to Tesla, aluminum has become a prominent part of consumer trucks and cars now. However,

other vehicle manufacturers are now seeing the functional benefits and performance value of

aluminum. Pride Bodies, a manufacturer of service trucks and cranes, has decided to take the aluminum

plunge. From Fleet Owner:

Pride Bodies has released a new service truck body mechanics bumper that is 200 lbs. lighter due to the

use of aluminum in place of steel.

Aluminum reduces weight, fuel costs and provides a material that will withstand the ravages of salt and

liquid calcium chloride, the company said.

“Durable aluminum bodies allow our customers to consequently reduce the truck class while increasing

the payload.   With the cost of fuel and the intensity of DOT monitoring of truck weights assembling the

right combination of chassis and truck body is important in today’s economy,” said Russ Lanthier,

president.

Fuel economy is driving everything in the auto industry, and with aluminum’s consistent performance in

the consumer market, it was just a matter of time before industrial vehicles followed suit. For Pride, the

aluminum mechanics bumper may just be the start as the company weighs the possibilities of further

steel-to-aluminum conversions.

15 01, 2015

Aluminum Powers Ford To Big Award

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 15th, 2015|

It’s not just a groundbreaking vehicle. It’s not just a leader in design and innovation. The Ford F-150 is more than that; in fact, it’s the North American Truck Of The Year. Selected by a large panel of North American-based auto writers, the F-150 started off the year with plenty of questions but is enjoying sales and accolades along with its new aluminum frame. From USA Today:

Ford Motor’s aluminum-body 2015 F-150 pickup won the North American Truck of the Year award by topping the votes of the independent, 57-member jury of U.S. and Canadian auto writers and editors.

The Ford is first standard-duty pickup to use an aluminum body, which cuts weight for better mileage and greater towing and hauling capabilities. It also drives more nimbly than most pickups.It went on sale in November.

It was the eighth time Ford has won the truck trophy in the award’s 22-year history, and the fourth time for F-150.

Tangential to this, Ford has announced that it will focus its aluminum efforts on its truck line rather than both cars and trucks. Ford believes there are other ways to maximize fuel efficiency without an aluminum body; however, we’ll see how closely they stick to this as other auto manufacturers have done quite well with an aluminum body on their cars (hello, Tesla).

5 01, 2015

Cadillac’s New Flagship Vehicle Will Have An Aluminum Body

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 5th, 2015|

It’s safe to say that the aluminum revolution has begun for American automakers. With the Ford F-150 rollout hitting a full stride, news has come out that Cadillac’s luxury sedan line will soon be making good use of our favorite metal. According to Automobile Magazine, the new Cadillac CT6 will feature an aluminum body when it gets unveiled in the near future.

Will the new Cadillac CT6 have the rakish, expressive styling of the Elmiraj show car, or will it be a conservative evolution of the luxury brand’s current design language? While those questions will linger probably until the CT6 is unveiled later in 2015, AUTOMOBILE has learned this about the sedan, which uses General Motors’ new Omega full-size rear-wheel-drive platform: It will have an aluminum body.

The Cadillac CT6, which will be a bit smaller than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class but larger than the midsize CTS, also will be the first to use an engine, or engines, from GM’s upcoming four-/six-/eight-cylinder family. We have learned that while a CT6 Vsport has been approved for production, there’s no word on a CT6-V yet, so some sort of turbocharged- or supercharged-six seems likely.

The aluminum body, which potentially keeps the new sedan in or close to the CTS’s 3,700-4,100-pound weight category, suggests that the CT6 is designed to aim for the Mercedes CLS-Class, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, and Audi A7 even if its styling doesn’t classify it as a so-called four-door sport coupe.

The new CT6 is expected to be revealed at car shows during the first half of the new year. Expect a lot of hype and press, as Cadillac has already called the sedan its new flagship vehicle.

23 12, 2014

Aluminum Powers New High-Speed Rail Technology

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 December 23rd, 2014|

Would you speed across the rails in a train car made of aluminum foam?

Sounds like a risky proposition, but it’s actually safe, strong, and mass-efficient. All of these things make this new aluminum-based composite one of the most exciting innovations the mass transit industry has seen in years. From Wired:

Americans have long been promised high-speed rail, but to date, we’re still far behind Europe and Asia when it comes to rolling stock. Now, we have one more train technology to envy our brethren across the pond: Trains made of aluminum foam, a material that’s stronger, lighter, and better in a crash than fiberglass or regular old metal.

Engineers in Chemitz, Germany unveiled a prototype high-speed train cab made with the stuff earlier this year. The composite material is built like a sandwich: Between two pieces of aluminum, each just two millimeters thick, is a 25-millimeter-thick layer of the “foam,” actually a low-density, sponge-like composite of magnesium, silicon, and copper, and aluminum. And like a good sandwich, there’s no glue. The layers are held together by metallic bonding, the electrostatic attraction of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions.

The result is a material that’s 20 percent lighter than traditional fiberglass, which is commonly used on high-speed train cabs. That’s a big advantage when the goal is to move faster and more efficiently. Even better, it doesn’t come at the cost of a weaker train. “The outer shell is so stiff that you need no ribs inside,” says Dr. Thomas Hipke, head of lightweight construction at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, which helped to design the prototype train cab. Peel tests of aluminum foam—in which force is applied to pull apart the layers of the material—destroy the foam interior instead of breaking the bonds between the layers, demonstrating the strength of the bonding.

To the layperson, the idea of 200 MPH inside of an aluminum-based tube sounds frightening. However, the science behind it is solid: it’s safer and more efficient than traditional materials, meaning that it gets the job done while being less taxing on our energy resources. Just like the Ford F-150, it’s another breakthrough innovation thanks to aluminum.

18 12, 2014

Ford Sees Recycling As Key To New F-150

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 December 18th, 2014|

It’s already well known that the Ford F-150’s body switched from steel to aluminum, but now further details are coming out regarding the actual manufacturing process. It turns out that Ford’s decided on a zero-waste system when it comes to aluminum thanks to the metal’s recycling capabilities. Not only does this result in a cost savings for the company, it helps minimize the amount of resources used and wasted during manufacturing. From the Wall Street Journal:

The 2015 F-150, perhaps the most important vehicle to hit Ford dealerships in decades, goes on sale this month. By the time a new truck exits the factory and heads for the showroom, it will have left behind $300 worth of scrap aluminum on the plant floor.

That scrap is collected, cleaned, and sent back to the aluminum plant on the same trucks that delivered it fresh—creating what Chief Executive Mark Fields calls a “closed loop” that helps offset the expense of building its best-selling vehicle with a material that is far pricier than steel.

“Every single scrap of aluminum is reused,” Mr. Fields said in an interview. “The more you can reuse or recycle, it makes it a more compelling business case.”

Every day, about 50 semi tractor-trailers drive out of Ford’s F-150 plant in Dearborn, Mich., with thousands of pounds of shredded aluminum, scrap that was stamped out of six-foot-wide aluminum rolls used to make F-150 body panels. Only 60% to 65% of a roll is actually used in the stamping process because many body panels have big holes, such as windows.

Because aluminum can be recycled almost endlessly without degradation, recycling has long played a major role in the production of everything from beer cans to jumbo jets. The twist is that Ford installed systems to separate the six different aluminum alloys it uses and return them to mills in Iowa or New York, to be turned back into aluminum sheet for delivery to its Dearborn stamping plant.

For more on the technology behind Ford’s recycling process, be sure to check out the full WSJ article.

11 12, 2014

Car & Driver Gets Up Close With Aluminum

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 December 11th, 2014|

When did Ford first experiment with aluminum? What exactly is the alloy composition? How is the manufacturing process different with aluminum?

If you’ve wondered about questions like this, Car & Driver has a treat for you. They recently posted an in-depth piece to their blog highlighting many detailed facts regarding the Ford F-150 and all things aluminum. From Car & Driver:

Henry Ford’s Model T was the 20th century’s boldest automotive stroke. Like Lotus’s Colin Chapman and every other shrewd motorsports engineer, Ford—even way back when—identified weight as the enemy. Model T frames were made of steel containing vanadium for extra strength, and millions of T hoods were aluminum long before that metal entered the car-material mainstream. With only 20 horsepower under the hood, the T needed its weight to be kept below 2000 pounds to meet Ford’s ambitious performance goals. Now that 2015 Ford F-150s are finally in customer hands, inquiring minds wonder why it took a century for aluminum to leap from Model T hoods to the cabs and beds of America’s bestselling vehicle. Let’s explore that topic, shall we?

Car & Driver’s blog post is a thorough examination about the use of aluminum, from design to manufacturing to intended results. See the full piece at the Car & Driver blog.

2 12, 2014

Ford Prepares To Ramp Up Aluminum-Based Production

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 December 2nd, 2014|

Ford is getting ready to push the 2015 F-150 into the public’s arms. Initial models have started to trickle into dealerships, but early 2015 will see a larger-scale launch. To support this, one of the company’s biggest manufacturing plants has begun ramping up. From the Kansas City Star:

It’s been nearly a year since the 2015 F-150 made a splash with its aluminum body at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Now the time has come to get the new models into dealer showrooms. A trickle of them have started to be delivered from a Michigan plant which is ramping up, and early next year the company’s Claycomo plant will begin production.

Area Ford dealers have been fielding customer inquiries about the newest version of the F-150, which for decades has been the most popular vehicle in the U.S.

“We’re anxious and excited to get one,” said Mark Smith, president of Dick Smith Ford in Raytown, who hopes to have one or two of the 2015 F-150s by Christmas.

The launch of a revamped popular model is typically a big deal, and this time even more so. The pickup truck will have an aluminum body which is getting lots of attention since it’s a first for a mainstream vehicle.

Ford says it is ready. The truck has gone through 10 million miles of durability tests, and the military-grade aluminum is ding resistant, in keeping with the truck’s reputation for toughness. The company got some bragging rights last week when the 2015 F-150 with a 2.7 liter V-6 Ecoboost engine got a fuel economy rating that’s the best of any full-sized gasoline-powered pickup.

With the F-150 about to hit large-scale production, the next chapter in the story will be how the aluminum trickle-down effect impacts other models and manufacturers. Stay tuned, things will get really interesting once auto manufacturers see how the public reacts to the new F-150.

25 11, 2014

When Ford Met Jaguar…

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 November 25th, 2014|

Sometimes, good things come out of bad situations. Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say. If you’re a fan of mixed metaphors, then check out this article from Automobile Magazine. The general idea is that the auto industry’s current aluminum surge came as a result of solving problems in bad situations. Or as they put it, Jaguar and Ford had a love child called aluminum.

When a relationship goes sour, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong. Surely, that has been the case with Ford and Jaguar-Land Rover. We dwell on Ford’s inability to understand European luxury and Jaguar’s inability to make money. And the X-Type. Gosh, what a terrible car. Yet even bad marriages can produce wonderful children. For Jaguar and Ford, that child was aluminum.

When Ford bought Jaguar in 1989, neither automaker had much expertise with the material. “Ford kind of went, ‘How about all this aluminum stuff?’” recalls Mark White, who joined Jaguar in 1986 and is now the automaker’s chief technical specialist for lightweight vehicle structures. Jaguar had in its misty past crafted aluminum racing cars such as the Lightweight E-Types, but these were exotic, largely hand-built affairs. Aluminum is usually joined by riveting and gluing, rather than spot welding, and it is much more difficult to stamp and form. “Most of the alloys used in Ferraris and Astons were really made by hand. It took lots of hours to get the shapes,” White says.

Starting in the mid ’90s, Jaguar and Ford engineers worked on ways to scale up aluminum production. Jaguar Land Rover and Ford slowly but surely worked through aluminum’s challenges with technologies such as self-piercing rivets and more complex castings that reduce the number of parts that need to be joined and thereby the number and variety of rivets that need to be used. Suppliers Novelis and Alcoa have developed aluminum alloys that are more malleable and bond more easily.

To read the full story behind this troubled marriage, be sure to visit Automobile Magazine’s full article. Spoiler: there won’t be any juicy TMZ-ready tidbits, despite the appearance of a love child.

12 11, 2014

Aluminum-Based Ford F-150 Hits Manufacturing Floor

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 November 12th, 2014|

It’s time to put all of the testing and speculation aside. Ford’s aluminum pride and joy, the 2015 F-150, has finally gone into full production, and the first vehicle off the assembly line got a rousing ovation at the Dearborn, Michigan facility. From the Detroit News:

Shortly before 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Dearborn Truck plant manager Brad Huff and UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles drove the first 2015 F-150 pickup — painted cherry red — off the assembly line and into history.

Ford Motor Co.’s newest truck, made with an aluminum body and bed that saves up to 700 pounds, marks a significant milestone for the Dearborn automaker and is a potential game-changer for the industry. The launch completes years of research and development after Ford overhauled nearly every aspect of the building process from exterior painting to interior design.

The lightweight material is expected to increase gas mileage 5 percent to 20 percent, but is more costly to make and repair — a big gamble for Ford’s best-selling vehicle. The launch also marks a rebirth for the Dearborn Truck Plant, centerpiece of the venerable Rouge Center that was nearly shuttered before finding new life to build the truck. The plant underwent a multi-million dollar renovation this year.

“We’re here today to make history,” executive chairman Bill Ford said as hundreds of workers cheered. “The Rouge has always been at the heart of Ford to me and my family.”

Now that production is in full force, showrooms are expecting to get their inventory sometime within the next month. The early word in reviews and press has been positive, but the ultimate vote comes down to the consumer. With its increased gas mileage and signature durability, we’re guessing it will be a winner.

6 11, 2014

Aluminum Part May Reveal Amelia Earhart’s Fate

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 November 6th, 2014|

It’s funny how solving one mystery often unlocks another. In this case, resolving one twenty-year mystery can be the key to another internationally known, decades-long mystery. At the center of it all? One piece of aluminum — more specifically, a piece of aluminum recovered in a remote island nearly two decades ago. From The International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery:

Increasing confidence that a piece of aluminum aircraft debris found on a remote, uninhabited South Pacific atoll came from Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra has bolstered speculation that a sonar anomaly detected at a depth of 600 feet off the west end of the island is the lost aircraft.

In June 2015, TIGHAR will return to Nikumaroro to investigate the anomaly with Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology supported by Nai’a, the 120-foot Fiji-based vessel that has served five previous TIGHAR explorations. During the twenty-four day expedition, divers will search for other wreckage at shallower depths and an onshore search team will seek to identify objects detected in historical photographs that may be relics of an initial survival camp.

During Amelia Earhart’s stay in Miami at the beginning of her second world flight attempt, a custom-made, special window on her Lockheed Electra aircraft was removed and replaced with an aluminum patch. The patch was an expedient field modification. Its dimensions, proportions, and pattern of rivets were dictated by the hole to be covered and the structure of the aircraft. The patch was as unique to her particular aircraft as a fingerprint is to an individual. Research has now shown that a section of aircraft aluminum TIGHAR found on Nikumaroro in 1991 matches that fingerprint in many respects. For a detailed study of this important new development see The Window, The Patch, and The Artifact, Research Bulletin #73 on the TIGHAR website.

The strong possibility that Artifact 2-2-V-1 is the “Miami Patch” means that the many fractures, tears, dents and gouges evident on the metal may be important clues to the fate – and resting place – of the aircraft itself. Deciphering those clues will be the next phase in TIGHAR’s analysis of this complex and fascinating artifact.

To learn more about this potentially historic find, visit the official TIGHAR website for the complete press release.

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