Last week, we noted that aluminum usage for auto manufacturing is now higher in the United States than in Europe. Today, materials-industry website Industrial Laser Solutions provided a little more background on the how and why of this statistic. It’s not just that manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet are using more aluminum pieces as a cumulative total in their cars — in fact, it’s cutting-edge manufacturing techniques that are allowing aluminum to be more versatile than ever before.
From Industrial Laser Solutions: http://www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/2013/10/laser-welding-leads-to-corvettes-strength-refinement-and-quality.html
General Motors’ $131 million investment in technology at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, which includes the first production use of a GM-patented process, allowing aluminum to be spot welded to aluminum and laser welding of aluminum panels, is resulting in the strongest and most precisely built Corvette in its six-decade history.
To show off the Corvette and its plant, public tours at the plant will resume on Monday, October 14. The plant tour and customer programs were halted last fall while the plant underwent the upgrade. The sports car has been built there exclusively since June 1981.
New technologies enable more accurate and efficiently produced subassemblies such as the frame and the components attached to it. “For example, the new aluminum-welding process enabled us to make the frame lighter and stiffer, improving the performance and driving confidence,” said Dave Tatman, plant manager.
These new techniques allow aluminum to be more intricately used in all types of situations and circumstances. The result is a manufacturing world that truly allows engineers and designers to get creative with their design.