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Materials & Assembly

Slideshow: Advanced Steels, Aluminum Answer the Call of Automakers

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Elizabeth M
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Lighter and stronger
Elizabeth M   3/20/2014 8:30:18 AM
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Interesting story about how you can have it both ways with cars--ie, lighter materials don't mean that strength or quality suffer. I guess I am curious about whether these lighter steels would replace some of the plastic parts that carmakers started using because it was less expensive than metal and easier to manufacture. I find these car parts really suffered in terms of quality and strength and didn't hold up over time.

far911
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Re: Lighter and stronger
far911   3/20/2014 1:48:31 PM
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Elizabeth you are absolutely right as the plastic parts took place of several metal parts ulitamately resulting in poor quality .It is really nice that the new tech is good in quality , high in efficiency and cheaper in cost.

naperlou
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Re: Lighter and stronger
naperlou   3/20/2014 4:43:00 PM
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This is indeed a new trend in the automotive industry.  For a long time it has been all the electronics that manufacturers were stressing.  With these looming standards, which are really for the best, we are seeing them concentrate more on the basics of automotive design. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Lighter and stronger
Charles Murray   3/20/2014 7:33:10 PM
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That's a good point, naperlou. For the past ten years, it seemed all I was hearing about was electronics. Now, with CAFE mandates looming and crash safety growing more important, materials have suddenly become a big issue to the auto industry.

far911
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Re: Lighter and stronger
far911   3/21/2014 2:16:38 PM
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Your point is valid as most automobiles manufacturer are stressing on engine power and running cost like conversion on gas, electronis, etc but improvement in safety measures were not stressed.

mrdon
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Re: Lighter and stronger
mrdon   3/24/2014 12:13:43 AM
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naperlou

It's good to see auto makers return to the basics of automotive design. Without a structural sound car body, all of the sophisticated electronics will not improve the rideability and performance of the vehicle. Its definitely a new age of thinking in the auto industry.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Lighter and stronger
Elizabeth M   3/24/2014 4:52:12 AM
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Thanks, far911, I agree that these lighter metals seem a better alternative to plastic. I have an older vehicle and am constantly annoyed with parts breaking off now that they have aged a bit.

Charles Murray
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Re: Lighter and stronger
Charles Murray   3/20/2014 7:20:11 PM
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I'm sure some automakers still want to use plastic body panels, Liz, but the auto industry in general seems to be moving away from them. In his book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business, Bob Lutz wrote this about thermoplastic panels: "In practice, however, the plastic panels were finicky. They took longer to produce than conventional stamped steel, they grew and shrank when the temperature changed, requiring the cars to have wide, unappealing gaps around the doors, hood and trunk for clearance." Advanced steels and aluminum are looking better than plastics for reasons involving stiffness and weight, and I think we'll be seeing more of them.

mrdon
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Re: Lighter and stronger
mrdon   3/24/2014 12:18:37 AM
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Charles,

I know some car makers like Ford have been 3D printing vehicle parts like transmissions to expedite the manufacturing process and development cyle of automobiles. Just wondering if 3D printing technology will be used to assist in the development of these aluminum structures for automobiles.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Lighter and stronger
Elizabeth M   3/24/2014 4:58:11 AM
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As I mentioned before, Chuck, this is really good news. These materials seem a far better option than plastic for a lot of parts, body panels included. Even if some plastic ones remain in use, having more metal parts throughout the rest of the vehicles hopefully will make them stronger overall.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Lighter and stronger
Cabe Atwell   3/26/2014 4:30:49 PM
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It will be interesting to see how the improved materials rate in crash tests. Ralph Nader, we need you now!

C

Elizabeth M
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Re: Lighter and stronger
Elizabeth M   3/27/2014 7:58:22 AM
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Good point, Cabe! But they certainly have to be better than plastic...

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