Improved fuel economy has become one of the biggest goals of today’s auto makers. For the past 40 years, the use of extruded aluminum within the automotive industry has grown. The use of this very valuable metal has increased in recent years because it hits all of the hot buttons: it is environmentally friendly, it is cost-effective, it can boost fuel economy and reduce emissions, and it can even increase performance. It is a win-win material choice all around. Aluminum extrusion solutions are being developed all the time to further increase the abilities of modern vehicles. Custom aluminum extrusions, which are created to prevent corrosion through design, while offering a whole host of benefits, are even more popular.
Industry Growth: Extruded Aluminum
Some of the biggest auto makers in the business are now using aluminum extrusion solutions to enhance their vehicles. Heavy-duty and high-performance vehicles, such as the Ford F-150, and luxury vehicles made by Mercedes, Audi and Land Rover, have set the standard for use of aluminum in the manufacture of their products. The strength-to-weight ratio of aluminum is a big benefit, as well as all of the other environmental advantages, making aluminum a top choice across the board. Studies, research programs and product development is ongoing for the use of custom aluminum extrusions, to help reduce cost, continue to boost fuel economy, and create safer vehicles for consumers.
Some of the reasons why aluminum is an ideal choice for industry include:
- aluminum is the number one most recycled metal in the world
- second only to steel as the most used material in automotive manufacturing
- as a material choice, aluminum is plentiful and cost-effective to use
- aluminum use saves the equivalent of 108 million barrels of crude oil in energy compared to a fleet of traditional steel vehicles
- the lighter weight of aluminum helps to boost fuel economy
- safety benefits due to the ability to absorb twice the crash energy of mild steel
- larger crush zones can be incorporated without increasing the weight of the vehicle
Better Performance Over Other Materials
When compared to steel and other metal materials used in the manufacture of vehicles for consumers and commercial use, extruded aluminum and other aluminum parts allow for better acceleration, braking and handling, due to the lower weight. For the trucking and transportation industries, lighter weight vehicles mean that they can haul and tow more weight and stay within state and federal regulations.
To better understand the significance of the lighter weight of aluminum, vehicles that are made using optimized custom aluminum extrusions and other aluminum parts can have a weight savings of up to 50 percent compared to a traditional steel structure vehicle. That’s a huge savings! Combine that information with the fact that aluminum structures are equal to or even superior in strength to steel, plus the ability to absorb twice as much crash energy, and it becomes clear why aluminum extrusion solutions are so popular.
Other Benefits of Using Extruded Aluminum
Aluminum creates a natural layer of protection that helps to prevent corrosion. However, there are additional ways that experienced designers work with custom aluminum extrusions to prevent corrosion through design. Beyond built-in nuances within the extruded aluminum itself, secondary operations and finishing can be added to bolster anti-corrosive properties, such as anodizing, painting, and powder-coating the finished products. This helps to keep the aluminum parts and products to look better longer without succumbing to environmental damage.
In addition to being the most recycled metal on the planet, studies now reveal that nearly 90 percent of all the aluminum used in automotive manufacturing is recovered and recycled to the tune of over 500,000 tons each year. For every ton of aluminum that is recycled, the energy equivalent of 21 barrels of oil is saved. One study conducted by the Department of Energy showed that an aluminum-intensive vehicle can save up to 20 percent of a reduction in total life cycle energy consumption and as much as 17 percent reduction in CO2 emissions throughout its lifetime.
Contact Silver City Aluminum for Custom Solutions
If you are in the market for custom aluminum extrusions or are interested in learning more about aluminum extrusion solutions for the automotive and transportation industries, give us a call at 508-542-7200. Our team of highly trained and experienced engineers, designers and technicians can help you achieve all of your goals, including learning how to prevent corrosion through design, take advantage of low weight-to-strength ratios, and many more advantages associated with choosing extruded aluminum for your industry project.