Of course it would be nice to be able to use the advantages of aluminium especially in mass production. At the moment (2004) there is an abundance of aluminium parts, but no entire car body. Mostly only bonnets and/or side plates or fenders are produced from this material. Individual manufacturers are already venturing the complete front end structure. This is due to the fact that aluminium (based on present energy costs ) is twice as expensive as steel. Another reason is the offensive from the steel manufacturers who have made their material considerably more flexibly applicable.
How it works
For the mass production of aluminium certain conditions are necessary on the manufacturing side. In this respect aluminium has turned out to be the more complicated material. In the forging plant there are clock-rates of up to 15 parts/min. One is still far from this performance when manufacturing with aluminium, particularly along the lines of semi-finished casting and profile products. Also the quality control and the testing methods are not yet sufficiently developed. One example is, the surface assessment, which is much easier when working with steel.Of course the higher expenses mentioned above must also be cut down on, partly by production optimisation, e.g., by reducing the cut-off waste or by production of larger parts. Also the processes already developed for sheet metal, for example continuously changeable material thickness or tailored blanks must be applied to aluminium. Together with new welding processes (laser welding) and surface finishing technology, a solution to the problem of aluminium in mass production could be found. 07/08