Auto Industry Takes Advantage of the Properties of Aluminum

Aluminum in the Auto IndustryWhile there are many different industries that are utilizing custom aluminum products in manufacturing, one has made headlines in recent years for its use of aluminum extrusion design. The very properties of aluminum, in particular its high strength-to-weight ratio and the fact that it weighs one-third less than many other metals, are just some of the reasons why the automotive industry has embraced the use of this material in modern vehicles.

Automobiles, trucks and trailers, buses and even railways, there are many different specialized areas within the overall transportation industry that are now relying on custom aluminum products. As the entire industry is now focused on boosting fuel economy, while at the same time enhancing performance, safety and increasing load-carrying capacity, the properties of aluminum have made it a top choice.

How It Works
One example that will really help you see why standard and custom aluminum products are beneficial to the transportation and, more specifically, the automotive industry, is when you realize that for every pound of aluminum that is used in the design of a vehicle, two pounds of iron or steel are displaced. That translates to a savings of 3.1 gallons of crude oil, which equates to over 20 pounds of CO2 emissions throughout the lifetime of the vehicle. Multiply that times the number of cars and trucks that are on the road today and you can see why this is such a big deal.

Since 2006, the use of hollow aluminum tubes and other elements created by aluminum extrusion design and other methods, have saved approximately 14.5 billion gallons of gasoline, which equates out to over 350 million barrels of crude. In the United States, recent changes to mileage standards for consumer and commercial vehicles makes it is more important than ever before to try new methods that can help to reduce energy consumption and help meet the new environmental requirements. The new standards are expected to reduce crude oil consumption by over 500 million barrels each year.

Other Benefits to Using Aluminum
In addition to reducing fuel consumption and, as a result, greenhouse gases, the use of custom aluminum products offers other advantages to the automobile industry. Aluminum is a corrosion-free material that is flexible enough to allow multiple functions to be designed and built-in to a single part through the use of aluminum extrusion design. While some people may think about extrusion and just picture hollow aluminum tubes or angles, there really is no limit to the shapes and options available through custom profile design.

Aluminum, as a material, is also a very plentiful material. It is also, in fact, the most recycled metal on the planet. It is 100 percent recyclable, which means that very little is wasted in the recycling process and none of the inherent benefits and properties of aluminum are lost when it is recycled. This makes aluminum one of the most environmentally friendly metals and materials on the planet, which is perfect for businesses and industries that are focused on sustainability.

Aluminum Extrusion Design in the News
Several automobile makers are now using custom aluminum products that have been extruded through custom design to help reduce the weight of their vehicles, while increasing safety, convenience and style. In 2014, vehicles that were manufactured in North America contained approximately 28 pounds of aluminum materials. However, it is expected that this figure will grow to approximately 50 pounds per vehicle by the year 2025, nearly doubling the potential for fuel savings.

Some of the most significant examples of the use of custom aluminum products include:

  • The 7th Generation Corvette Stingray was released in 2013, featuring a standard all-aluminum frame, which reduced the weight by 99 pounds and provided 60 percent increased stiffness for safety and performance. The same year, Tesla introduced the Model S, which featured an aluminum-intensive design that used aluminum sheeting, castings and multiple extrusions. This provided a 25 percent reduction in body weight. Extrusions were used to create the roof box, battery box, side impact system and rear suspension.
  • Ford launched their well-received F-150 in 2014, which instantly became the vehicle with the highest volume of aluminum-intensive applications in North America. Around 50 pounds of aluminum extrusion design went into the front end and roof structure of the F-150, resulting in a vehicle that was 400 pounds lighter than the competition.
  • In 2015, Cadillac launched their CT6, which was created as a competitor to the high performance luxury sedans of Germany. Aluminum extrusion design is found throughout the structure of this vehicle, including components for the engine cradle and a multi-hollow rocker. These custom aluminum products provide a weight savings of over 200 pounds, while the properties of aluminum were able to provide a stiffer body than the BMW 5-series.
  • So far in 2016, Jaguar Land Rover has announced that they have created a new aluminum alloy that is made from high recycled content, RC5754. It contains 75 percent recycled content and it will be used within the structural components of their high volume production vehicles. The REALCAR, which stands for REcycled ALuminum CAR), was introduced in the new Jaguar XE and will be featured in all new models of the Jaguar Land Rover.

Contact Silver City Aluminum to Get Started
If you are interested in learning more about aluminum extrusion design or would like to inquire about standard and custom hollow aluminum tubes or custom aluminum products for the automotive and transportation industries, contact our team direct at 508-542-7200. Our team of technicians, designers and engineers can help you with the development of custom extrusion dies that take full advantage of the properties of aluminum. Call today for a FREE quote or to get started on your next project.