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The total energy consumption of a vehicle is proportional to its total driving resistance
which is defined as the sum of rolling, accelerating and gradient resistances of these, the
only element not affected by mass, is air resistance; weight reduction therefore yields a
significant reduction in power consumption. One of the leading strategies is based on
reduction in power consumption. One of the leading strategies is based on reducing the
mass of the car by the consistence use and optimum application of lightweight
construction techniques.
The aim of lightweight construction weight. While simultaneously using all materials
optimally. How're, the desire for lightweight construction at all cost is not everything the
const involved in the material and process used most be considered as well.




Ecological demands on vehicles including low fuel consumption low emissions and
better recycling capability are becoming more and more important in the eyes of the
customer. Accordingly several strategies are being developed that will significantly
improve the environmental performance of tomorrows motor vehicle.
The heaviest component that logically attracts most attention is the body and chassis.
Today aluminium use in the chassis is already state of the art. E.g. in the areas of steering,
sub frames and axle supports. For the body the starting point for experiment was simply
substituted by aluminium. This produced 66% weight reduction for similar was thickness
but did not gave the necessary stiffness and vehicle functional performance. A completely
new construction was needed with the design optimized from the start for aluminium.
This concept is called as Aluminium space frame or ASF.


By many great variety of aluminium semi-finished product types and therefore
construction possibilities, the weight was reduced by approximately 40% compared with
conventional steel bodied and the stiffness which is vital to high quality and comfort, was
actually increased.
This lightweight body is the starting point of a new overall technological concept geared
to reversing the weight increase spiral. The first step in this concept is initially associated
with higher cost. However, as weight drops further, compensating savings become
available in the areas of engine, gearbox, and chassis and packaging. There is a break-
even point in this reduction; therefore costs can be deduced to the point where the weight
objective is achieved.
The ASF structure is similar to lattice framework with vacural pressure die-cast parts as
nodular elements linked with each other via hollow straight of curved extruded profile
sections acting as support beams. Molded plants are integrated into this structure as
surface closing parts, which add to the total stiffness, on account of their shear surface

By integrating material design with process design through computational modeling, we

can select the optimum alloy to maximize formability of the part. When we run the
model, we can do multiple iterations, trying a number of different alloys. "This is
possible for two reasons, both of which depend on advanced scientific computing.

1) Supercomputing
2) Aluminium Product Design

Aluminium - a mathematical description that relates the microstructure of the metal to

how it behaves when formed into a manufactured product.
Allowed it to refine this model to its current high degree of accuracy. "This is one of its
strengths it have ability with simulations to describe all complex loading conditions."
Supercomputing, it gives fast turnaround, makes it feasible to adjust parameters and look
at multiple possibilities,
Providing design flexibility that wouldn't otherwise be available. "With the Cray,"
. The turnaround is six times faster than on our own workstations, and this is critical in
the design stage, where you need to make changes quickly."



Simply replacing sheet steel with aluminium sheet metal for the hood, tailboard, doors
and other exteriors shell parts presents for the car manufacturers, the simplest surest and
cheapest option to reduce the total vehicle weight, to achieve either improved driving
characteristics of reduced fuel consumption of both.
Aluminium is particular has got the following properties due to which it is used:
1. Low density
2. Strength values comparable to steel
3. High toughness value
4. Good mach inability
5. Very good corrosion resistance
6. The variety of semi-finished product kinds

Heat-hardenable alloys of group 6000 are used for the semifinished product types, which
represent a good compromise between firmness deformation characteristics and which
are used extensively is Europe and USA. Depending upon the heat treatment applied, the
mechanical properties to the semi-finished products can be adjusted over a large range
between high firmness and high extension values. Moreover, the use of these alloys
improves weight saving because one can reduce the wall thickness without compromising
the strength of the material.

Manufacturing aspects

Aluminium ads its own complications to the joining techniques used in the body
compared with the traditional steel. The main techniques body is pulsed MIG welding,
self-pierce riverting, clinching, adhesive, bonding (for the wind screen and rear window)
and resistance spot welding.
Metal inert gas (MIG) welding uses an electric arc maintain between a consumable
electrode (filer wire) and the work piece in an atmosphere of inert gas. Automated
welding speeds are between 0.4 and 1.2 m/min. using conventional DC output supplies, a
sheet at least 1mm thick can be welding automatically with a machine guided MIG gun.
Sheet 1.5 mm thick and greater can be welded with manually guided MIG. The
equipment has been modified specially to achieve constant parameters.
Self-pierce reverting is the common substitute for resistance spot welding because the
joint strength is relatively insensitive to surface quality at comparable installation speed,
and the joint has excellent fatigue strength compared with other techniques.
Mechanical clinching, which is achieved local slitting and/or deformation is popular for
lower strength joints because it is quick and simple. It gives a joint without a support-
joining element. The clinch process is applied in a combined hub and intersperse action,
as well as forming by upsetting to achieve a frictional form closed joint.
When choosing materials, mechanical, physical and chemical properties are important
factors as well as sheer cost. In the past these have been considered mainly in terms of
their effects on the service and manufacturing characteristics. In future, however
recycling of material will assume a higher profile in customers mind. Consequently
special attention must to recycling oriented construction and the purposeful selection of
easily recyclable aluminium alloys.


Aluminium is known for its unique recycling properties. As a smart metal, aluminium is
chosen for its properties as a strong and light, corrosive resistant, non-flammable, non-
toxic and versatile material with low tooling costs. Its wide range of applications is
testaments to its ability to satisfy different market needs.
The different steps involved in the production of aluminium from the raw material are as

Step 1 - Bauxite mining

The raw material required for the production of primary aluminium is aluminium oxide,
refined from bauxite is then shipped to a refinery where it is processed into pure
aluminium oxide (alumina) - the raw material required for the production of primary
aluminium). Alumina is then shipped to the smelter plant

Stem 2 - Smelting

The production of primary aluminium takes place at reduction plants where pure
aluminium is released from the alumina by an electrolytic process. Magnesium and
silicon are added in controlled amounts to refine the cast structure and eliminate
variations in composition to produce a uniform grain size - a process called
homogenization. The cooling rate after homogenization. The cooling rate after
homogenization determines extrudability, mechanical properties and surface finish.
Molten metal is cast into logs for distributing to extrusion plants.

Step 3 - Extrusion

Aluminium logs are received into the plant and are sawn to billets of approximately
60cm in length. Billets are pre-heated in a furnace to make the material malleable before
being forced through a steel die to form an extruded section. Extrusions are then cooled
on a run out table before being moved for further added value processes, such as
anodizing, fabricating and being cut-to-length. The billets used for Lotus Cars are alloy

Step 4 - Fabrication

Following the extrusion process material is packed and delivered for milling, bending and
machining holes.

Step 5 - Added-value activities including assembly

Once machined the sections they are send to Hydro Aluminium Extrusion, an oxide
coating which is added to the material and is between 5 and 25 microns thick. After pre-
treatment and cleaning of the surface, the aluminium is connected as the anode in an
electrolytic circuit, and a low voltage, high amp direct current is passed through the
metal. The anodizing bath contains diluted sulphuric acid at room temperature. During
the process, atomic oxygen arises at the surface and undergoes a chemical change to
become a coating of oxide. The coating of oxide is transparent and is sealed by bathing is
pure boiling water. Anodizing provides surface pre-treatment for bonding and an
attractive, durable surface finish for exposed areas of the chassis.
When Hydro Aluminium Profile have finished machining the trailer sections, the
products are assembled to create the ramp and then dispatched to the customer - which
saves them both time and resources.

Step 6 - Recyclability

Aluminium is 100% recyclable and after products have reached the end of their product
life, they can be taken to ingot casting plants where scrap is remelted into aluminium
logs. These logs can then be extruded into new products without any loss of properties in
the aluminium and using only 5% of the energy that is required to provide primary
A new car body concept requires aspects was developed along side the ASF development.


Fig. Shows a front chassis member. After deformation of the longitudinal beam, the port
will be replaced and the new beam fixed with screws. The beam deformation helps to
absorb the energy efficiently protecting the passengers. Likewise the repair of the doorsill
after a side impact can also be done. The doorsill is cut off in undeformed sections, and a
spare part prepared to fit approximately in the gap. Small-extruded parts will be inserted
to compensate tolerances and to secure the weld pool for the joining.

ASF consists of extruded aluminum sections; vacuum die cast components and aluminum
sheets of different thicknesses. They all are made of high-strength aluminium alloy. At
the highly stressed corners and joints, extruded sections are connected by complex
aluminum die casting (nodes). Besides, new fastening methods were developed to join
the body parts together. It's quite complex and production cost is far higher than steel
Audi A8 is the first mass production car featuring Aluminium Space Frame chassis.
Developed in conjunction with US aluminium maker Alcoa, ASF is intended to replace
conventional steel monocoque mainly for the benefit of lightness. Audi claimed A8's ASF
is 40% lighter yet 40% stiffer than contemporary steel monocoque. This enables the
4WD-equipped A8 to be lighter than BMW 740i.

The Audi A2 employed the second generation of ASF technology, which involves larger
but fewer frames, hence fewer nodes and requires fewer welding. Laser welding is also
extensively used in the bonding. All these helped reducing the production cost to the
extent that the cheap A2 can afford it. It is the lightest car in its class, despite its low fuel
consumption; it is highly enjoyable to drive. Its exterior dimensions are compact, but it
provides an exceptional standard of occupant comfort. The ASF principle also affords
optimum protection for the car's occupants. The Audi A2's tare weight is a mere 895 kg
(1,973 lbs) - some 150 kg (330 lbs) lower than what vehicles of the size usually weight.
The idea behind the ASF concept is basically this: the panels are integrated into a high-
strength aluminium frame structure, in which they also have a load-bearing effect. The
Space Frame proper consists of extruded sections, which are connected by vacuum die-
cast nodes. This frame, in conjunction with high-strength aluminium panels, forms a
highly rigid body that is nevertheless very light.
Through this technology, the number of main body components has been reduced and the
weight brought down correspondingly. The entire section, from the front roof post to the
luggage compartment edge, including the door cutouts, is made from a single aluminium
extrusion. This ensures high precision and reproducible quality, both of them essential
requirements for maximum automation and high-volume production.
In this version Audi A2 has a fuel consumption of only 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers (62
miles); it too achieves a top speed of 173 km (107 mph) and accelerates from 0 - 100
km/h (060 mph) in 12.3 seconds.
As the world's largest aluminum company, Alcoa knows what aluminum can do, and it
helped develop the Prowler as well as the Audi A8, a German-produced aluminum car
making waves in the upscale market. Both cars have an aluminum skeleton, a "space
frame," similar to those used in aircraft, with attached aluminum body panels for their
sleek skin. Alcoa automotive engineers see these cars as harbingers of the future in
automotive design and engineering. To integrate product design with material design, we
don't want to force aluminum to behave like steel. We want to build aluminum
characteristics in our design.

At the heart of the design is a light weight, but enormously strong space frame chassis
constructed from extruded anodized aluminium and bonded together with a special epoxy
adhesive. The body comprises front and rear clamshell sections in composite.
A vehicle weight of 690 kg and a maximum engine output of 88 kW endow the Elise with
starting performance. The low bodyweight and consequent high power to weight ratio
provides obvious benefits in performance, braking, handling and steering, as well as fuel
consumption and emission levels. Maximum speed is 202 km/hr (126 mph) and 100 km/h
(62 mph) is reached from rest in 5.9 seconds, with 160 km/hr from rest in 18.0 seconds.
Finally turned independent suspension system, comprising upper and lower wishbones,
co-axial coil springs and inverted monotube dampers help to provide handling
performance to match.
Lotus engineers, working with forward- looking suppliers, have developed a high -
strength space frame structure of epoxy-bonded aluminium extrusions; a first for
production road cars. The structure weight less than 70 kg yet meets required safety legist
ration with excellent durability and torsional rigidity. The extrusion process is used to
produce many other costs- effective and elegant parts, such as the pedals, suspension
upright (both subjects of new Lotus patents), and the side intrusion beams.



It is lightweight and has excellent strength properties.

The anti-corrosion properties of aluminium are beneficial.
Improved quality and performance from advanced joining techniques.
There is no resource problem.
Strength values of aluminium are comparable to steel.
Fuel consumption is reduced.
It has got an excellent recycling property.
Cheap for low-volume production.
Offers the highest rigidity-to-weight ratio besides carbon fiber monocoque.

The initial cost of the car is increased.
The main drawback is that its Young's modules is two third smaller as compared to steel.


The new concept requires developments in the fields of alloys, components and joining
Compelling reasons for lightweight construction will continue to apply, chiefly reducing
fuel consumption and emissions. Aluminium offers an outstanding base as a construction
material, with its different semi-finished product types, its low specific weight, good
strength and corrosion characteristics. The application and optimization of existing, as
well as the development of new, fabrication techniques will play a decisive role in the
rate of introduction of aluminium bodies or components in high-volume production.

Manufacturing Engineer - 1999
Car manufacturing - 1999

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