When you think of the advantages of using aluminum and the transportation industry, you probably think about airplanes first. Extrusion and fabrication, along with aluminum sheeting, have been used by the aerospace division of the transportation industry for many years due to its incredible low weight to strength ratio. However, as fuel economy becomes more important and car companies look for new ways to improve upon their designs, aluminum has begun to play an even bigger role in the automotive industry. Aluminum industry solutions are now playing a large role in the design and construction of today’s fuel efficient vehicles – both cars and trucks. Currently, there is no sign that this latest trend will be slowing any time soon.
A Growing Influence in Industry
One recent study revealed that the global automotive industry, which did not include the booming industry in China, had consumed nearly 3 million tonnes of aluminum in the year 2014 alone. Experts believe that by the year 2020, that figure will come close to doubling at about 4.5 million tonnes of aluminum each year. The influence of aluminum within the ever-changing automotive industry has been extremely beneficial, both to car companies and to consumers, reducing fuel consumption and, as a result, CO2 emissions.
Aluminum is extremely versatile and, through the use of extrusion and fabrication to develop parts, is also very cost effective. Improvements made through profile design can be adjusted, reducing the amount of post extrusion operations required. This helps to create parts at a much faster rate and reduces the cost for creating each part. Many different parts are now being made from aluminum that were once made by much heavier metals, boosting the amount of aluminum used in vehicles. For example, approximately 77 pounds of aluminum was used in each vehicle on average back in the 70s, but today there is approximately 335 pounds of aluminum used.
Some of the vehicle parts now made with aluminum include:
- suspension parts
- engine radiators
- engine cylinder blocks
- wheels and bumpers
- transmission bodies and parts
- hoods, doors and frame
Today’s Full Aluminum Body Vehicles
All of these parts can make a huge difference in the overall weight of the vehicle. Aluminum industry solutions through extrusion and fabrication, along with other applications of this amazing metal, have helped car companies realize impressive fuel economy goals, but they knew that they could do even better. While the very first mass produced vehicle that relied on a full aluminum body was the Audi A8 in 1994, many others have followed in recent years. Jaguar, Porsche, BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz are just a few of the big names in the automotive industry who have since created similar full aluminum body vehicles.
A full 20 years after the Audi A8 was put into production, another huge step was taken with the release of the new 2014 Ford F-150 truck, which boasted a full aluminum body. This change allowed the truck to be nearly 700 pounds lighter than the 2013 model, boosting fuel efficiency and lowering CO2 emissions. Other improvements were made as well, including an increased cargo capacity, improved acceleration and better braking. All of these changes earned the 2015 F-150 five stars in reliability by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a full star higher than the popular 2013 model from Ford.
Other Advantages of Using Aluminum
Beyond the obvious reasons to use aluminum extrusion and fabrication to develop lighter and more fuel efficient parts for the automotive industry, there are still other benefits to using this amazing metal. In terms of safety, a full aluminum body vehicle is safer than a steel body because the deformation that comes after impact is limited to just the areas that received the impact, protecting the passengers within the passenger compartment. The rest of the body keeps its original shape. In a steel body vehicle, the damage can extend to the passenger compartment, affecting those inside.
Aluminum is twice as effective as steel in absorbing shock. This is why aluminum bumpers have been popular for such a long time. Some car companies have taken this to an extreme, creating aluminum alloy parts that are even considered bullet proof, totally taking advantage of this ability to absorb shock better than other commonly used metals. Not to mention the fact that aluminum is currently the most recycled metal on the planet, is extremely plentiful and much more affordable than many other metals being used across many different industries. There are just so many advantages of using aluminum, which is why we can expect to see the use of it expanded within the transportation industry as a whole.
One Call, We Do It All
If you are interested in learning more about the standard and custom extrusion and fabrication that we do at Silver City Aluminum, give us a call at 508-542-7200. We can take care of everything you need to develop aluminum industry solutions, including post extrusion operations and finishing, all on-site at our one stop shop facility in Taunton, MA. We deliver our aluminum extrusions all across the country and around the globe.