At WCX18: SAE World Congress Experience earlier this month, ArcelorMittal and Honda unveiled the world’s first outer and inner door ring system to better balance strength and performance while removing additional weight from the vehicle. The partners co-engineered the system for the 2019 Acura RDX. The inner door ring comprises... Read more →


Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory )PNNL) have developed and successfully tested a new solid-phase technique called Friction Stir Dovetailing (FSD) to join thick plates of aluminum to steel. The new process will be used to make lighter-weight military vehicles that are more agile and fuel efficient. An open-access paper... Read more →


As Faurecia’s NAFILean (natural fiber for injection) lightweight hemp-based biomaterials are increasingly adopted by OEMs, the company has developed new figures showing the significant energy and environmental benefits of the biomaterials. NAFILean integrates a natural, hemp-based fiber with polypropylene and allows for complex shapes and architectures along with weight reduction.... Read more →


SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, released the results of a recent lifecycle assessment of passenger car side doors using hybrid material solutions including laminates made with its continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite (CFRTC), the UDMAX GPP 45-70 tape. The material system aims to help improve compliance with stringent... Read more →


At the Low Carbon Vehicle Show in the UK in 2017, Williams Advanced Engineering unveiled the FW-EVX, an innovative lightweight EV platform concept. (Earlier post.) The concept features several innovations in battery pack design, cooling systems and lightweight structures, which have each been integrated into a single, lightweight, compact chassis... Read more →


By 2030, aluminum demand from Electric Vehicles (EVs) will near 10 million tonnes, a ten-fold increase from 2017, according to analysis by mining and metals business intelligence firm CRU. The usage of primary aluminum intensive, extrusions and rolled products will be significantly higher than seen in internal combustion engine vehicles... Read more →


The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, released a peer-reviewed study that examines the overall environmental impact of vehicle lightweighting using advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) compared with aluminum. The study, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas and Energy Study of Automotive Lightweighting,” found that... Read more →


EPFL researchers have developed models of magnesium alloys to understand how to make the metal more pliable. Magnesium is the lightest metal on earth but, also has very low ductility—i.e., it cannot easily be shaped into usable forms. The researchers hope that with the models will lead to the discovery... Read more →


Hydro has started producing the first aluminium metal at its technology pilot in Karmøy, marking the start of verifying at an industrial scale the HAL4e aluminium technology. Compared to the world average, the Hydro-developed technology will use 15% less energy in aluminium production and has the lowest CO2 footprint. Hydro... Read more →


Researchers have demonstrated how to create a super-strong aluminum alloy (nanotwinned Al-Fe) that rivals the strength of stainless steel, an advance with potential applications in the automotive and aerospace industries. The research, which shows how to alter the microstructure of aluminum to impart greater strength and ductility, is detailed in... Read more →


Volkswagen Group of America joins LIFT for automotive light-weighting research; first automotive OEM member

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) has officially joined the LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow) institute as a Silver Member to advance the group’s research into lightweight metals, therefore reducing the weight of future vehicles. The group comprises Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti; VWGoA is the first automotive OEM... Read more →


LightMAT awards $2.25M in Round Two funding for lightweight materials technologies

Five US-based organizations are receiving $2.25 million in technical assistance from Department of Energy national laboratories to further develop lightweight materials technologies and more efficient vehicles. The awarded projects are part of a second round of industrial assistance opportunities (earlier post) supported by DOE’s LightMAT—the Lightweight Materials Consortium.(Earlier post.) The... Read more →


Airbus and Williams Advanced Engineering have signed a memorandum of understanding under which the two companies will focus on the ways in which ultra-lightweight materials, battery technologies and electrical cell chemistries can be integrated on Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) program. In 2015, Airbus Defence and Space and Sion... Read more →


Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and their colleagues have devised a novel catalytic method to produce renewable acrylonitrile (ACN) using 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), which can be biologically produced from sugars. This hybrid biological-catalytic process offers an alternative to the conventional petrochemical production method and achieves unprecedented acrylonitrile... Read more →


New family of aluminum-cerium alloys shows significantly improved high-temperature performance, economic benefits

The high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and high thermal conductivity of aluminum alloys have made them important for the automotive and aerospace industries—and even more so now due to the promise of improved performance and fuel economy from lightweighting. However, while aluminum alloys offer outstanding castability, excellent mechanical properties, and... Read more →


Sumitomo Electric Industries and the University of Toyama have developed a high heat-resistant magnesium alloy for die casting applications. In die casting, a molten metal is injected into a die under high pressure and quickly cooled and solidified into the final part. Owing to its high productivity, die casting is... Read more →


Magna is using a torsional welding process for joining thermoplastic materials in order to help automakers cut weight and costs. The torsional welding process, developed by Magna for automotive applications at its exteriors plant in Liberec, Czech Republic, in collaboration with Telsonic Ultrasonics, features a high-speed twisting motion that creates... Read more →


Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, has partnered with Mahle GmbH to replace metal end caps with high-heat-resistant plastics in charge air cooler (CAC) applications. This change has led to improved engine performance, better fuel efficiency and reduced system costs. Metal end caps in... Read more →


Teijin Aramid BV, the core company of the Teijin Group’s aramid business, announced that its para-aramid fiber Twaron will be deployed in the solar-powered vehicles being developed by the KU Leuven and University of Michigan http://umich.edu/ teams taking part in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the world’s biggest solar car... Read more →


In 2010, leading global steelmaker ArcelorMittal launched its S-in motion range of lightweight steek solutions. (Earlier post.) Since then, the company has steadily expanded the range of solutions, which now cover many other types of vehicles and vehicle parts, including hybrid and electric vehicles, pick-up trucks, mid-size sedans and SUVs.... Read more →


Jaguar Land Rover seeking to increase the amount of aluminum from scrap for new vehicle production; 3-year, £2M REALITY project

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive is expanding the use of recycled aluminum in its car bodies to cut waste and reduce carbon emissions. A £2-million (US$2.6-million) project, called REALITY, will work to enable the closed-loop recycling of aluminum from end-of-life vehicles back into high-performance product forms for new vehicle body manufacture.... Read more →


Williams Advanced Engineering is displaying an innovative lightweight EV platform concept, named the FW-EVX, at this year’s Low Carbon Vehicle Show, Millbrook, UK, 6-7 September. With the intent of maximizing vehicle efficiency, Williams Advanced Engineering reimagined how electric cars are designed and constructed. This new approach is designed to make... Read more →


Magnesium is one of the lightest of all structural metals—75% lighter than steel, 33% lighter than aluminum—and is the fourth most common element on earth behind iron, silicon and oxygen. But despite its light weight and natural abundance, automakers have been stymied in their attempts to incorporate magnesium alloys into... Read more →


Over the next decade, automakers will continue to increase the adoption of high-strength, low weight aluminum in new car and truck construction at a faster pace than ever before. Total aluminum content is expected to grow from 397 pounds (180.1 kg) per vehicle (PPV) in 2015 to 565 PPV (256.3... Read more →


Mercedes-Benz Trucks has introduced its first 3D-printed spare part made of metal (an aluminum-silicon material), a thermostat cover for truck and Unimog models from older model series. In contrast to the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process used in plastics 3D printing, 3D printing of metallic components uses Selective Laser Melting... Read more →


Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) announced the winners of the 5th annual Altair Enlighten Award, which strives to promote and celebrate innovation in automotive lightweighting. The winner of the Full Vehicle category was the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which is 249 pounds (113 kilograms) lighter than its predecessor.... Read more →


Four new LightMAT projects to advance lighter weight vehicle components

The US DOE has selected four new projects designed to overcome technical hurdles in reducing the weight of vehicle components. The projects are part of a first round of industrial assistance opportunities supported by the Department of Energy’s LightMAT, the Lightweight Materials Consortium (earlier post). DOE will provide $1.2 million... Read more →


Team uses neutron scattering to investigate new Al-Ce alloy in running engine

A team from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has worked with industry partners to use neutrons to probe a running engine at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (earlier post), giving them the opportunity to test an aluminum-cerium alloy under operating conditions. The feat was a first for the... Read more →


A research team at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and Nagaoka University of Technology has developed a new high-strength magnesium sheet alloy (Mg–1.1Al–0.3Ca–0.2Mn–0.3Zn) that has excellent room-temperature formability comparable to that of the aluminum sheet metal currently used in body panels of some automobiles. The magnesium alloy becomes... Read more →


Researchers at George Washington University led by Dr. Stuart Licht have demonstrated the first facile high-yield, low-energy synthesis of macroscopic length carbon nanotubes (CNTs)—carbon nanotube wool—from CO2 using molten carbonate electrolysis (earlier post). The resulting CNT wool is of length suitable for weaving into carbon composites and textiles and is... Read more →


Hydro fully acquires Sapa to create a global aluminum company fully integrated across value chain and markets

Norsk Hydro will acquire Orkla’s 50% interest in Sapa—a 50/50 joint venture between Orkla and Hydro formed in 2013, and the world’s largest aluminum extrusion company. The transaction gives Sapa a total enterprise value of NOK 27 billion (US$3.24 billion). Sapa will become a new business area in Hydro named... Read more →


A new EU-sponsored project—RAMSSES (Realization and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships)—seeks to bring sustainable construction principles such as lightweight construction and modern materials such as fiber-reinforced composites to shipbuilding. Up to now, freighters have been made exclusively from steel. RAMSSES includes 37 partners from 13... Read more →


LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI), a developer of advanced multi-fuel-capable rotary combustion engine technology, has been awarded a $3-million Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) award from the US Army to develop an innovative ultra-portable 2kW diesel Compact Artillery Power System (CAPS). The RIF process is extremely selective, with only five percent of whitepapers... Read more →


The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox SUV has dropped nearly 400 pounds (181 kg)—approximately 10% of its mass—compared to its predecessor. Combined with this weight loss, the all-new body was designed and optimized for top safety ratings. The 2018 Equinox’s body structure design was optimized with a mixed-material strategy for strength and... Read more →


Warwick team develops new technique controlling brittle stages in production of high-strength, lightweight steels

A team at the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), University of Warwick (UK) has developed a new processing route which allows low-density steel-based alloys to be produced with maximum strength, while remaining durable and flexible—something which has been largely impossible until now. The development could enable the production of high-strength, lightweight... Read more →


Teijin Limited has developed the first polycarbonate (PC)-resin pillar-less automotive front window for use in the Tommykaira ZZ, a sporty electric vehicle (EV) produced by GLM Co., Ltd., an EV manufacturer launched by Kyoto University. Automotive front windows must satisfy a variety of regulations, including for light transmission, abrasion resistance... Read more →


As automakers strive to improve fuel economy, they have turned increasingly to lightweight materials to reduce overall vehicle weight—even though the average weight of materials in North American light vehicles has increased from 3,694 lbs (1,675.57 kg) in 1995 to 3,994 lbs (1,811.65 kg) in 2014, according to figures from... Read more →


Brunel, Sarginsons developing high-performance cast aluminum alloys for energy-absorbing structures; better bumpers without steel

The Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST), a global leader in metallurgical casting research, is working closely with foundry partner Sarginsons Industries and others on the development of high-performance cast aluminum alloys as part of the Lightweight Energy Absorbing Aluminium Structures for Transport (LEAAST) project. Advanced aluminum automotive body... Read more →


Magnesium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of the structural metals; as such, it is attractive for use in transportation as well as in sustainable battery technologies (e.g, earlier post). However, its current production through ore reduction using the conventional Pidgeon process emits large amounts of CO2 and particulate matter (PM2.5).... Read more →


The new Audi A8, scheduled for release in 2018, features a multi-material body structure (earlier post) consisting of more than 40% steel. That’s a marked turnaround from the all-aluminum body-in-white which Audi developed for the A8 in 1994, in which steel was essentially used for the B-pillars alone, and accounted... Read more →


Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) (which is now consolidated into Mitsubishi Chemical, along with Mitsubishi Plastis and the former Mitsubishi Chemical) recently announced that its carbon fiber sheet molding compound (SMC) has been adopted for the rear hatch frame of the new Toyota Prius PHV. SMC is a form of thermoset chopped... Read more →


DOE SBV Pilot selects 38 small business for labs partnerships; 2 fuel cell and 4 vehicle projects

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot has selected eight DOE national labs for collaborations with 38 small businesses in the third round of funding. Among these are two projects in the fuel cells area and four projects in the vehicle area. Other projects address advanced... Read more →


For the next generation of the Audi A8, an intelligent mix of four materials—aluminum, steel, magnesium and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP)—is being used for the first time in the weight-bearing body structure—more materials than in any of the brand’s previous production models. The resulting low weight and impressive rigidity—the upcoming... Read more →


American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has developed completely new, significantly improved axle technology. QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable across a wide range of vehicle segments and provides substantial advantages regardless of vehicle size: reduced mass, increased power density, improved noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and fuel efficiency gains in a... Read more →


Lotus has unveiled a significant update for the Lotus Elise ahead of its arrival in showrooms this spring. The new Sprint edition features the biggest weight cut to the car since the introduction of the first-generation Elise. The Sprint edition of the Lotus Elise has removed 41 kg (90.4 lbs)... Read more →


Novelis enters supply agreement with NIO to provide aluminum solutions for next-gen EVs

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, has expanded its automotive supply capabilities by signing an agreement with EV company NIO (earlier post), to provide innovative aluminum solutions for its fleet of smart, high-performance, premium electric vehicles. NIO will use Novelis Advanz aluminum alloys to create a wide... Read more →


In pursuit of lower vehicle weight to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency, Magna International Inc., in cooperation with Ford Motor Company, developed a prototype carbon fiber composite subframe which reduces mass by 34% compared to making a stamped steel equivalent. The subframe is a key part of a vehicle’s... Read more →


IACMI launches project to optimize resins and sizings for vinyl ester / carbon fiber composites; targeting automotive adoption

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a Manufacturing USA institute driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the US Department of Energy, in partnership with Ashland, Zoltek, Michelman, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), JobsOhio, and Michigan State University (MSU) has launched a project focused on the... Read more →


Teijin Limited has developed a new hard-coating technology that can be applied evenly on large or complex-shaped automotive windows made of resin to achieve the same level of abrasion resistance as glass windows and double the weather resistance of conventional plastics glazing. Teijin initially will produce small-lot samples of actual... Read more →


Ford testing 3D printing of large-scale parts using Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer

Ford Motor Company is exploring how large-scale one-piece auto parts, such as spoilers, could be printed for prototyping and future production vehicles, as the first automaker to pilot the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. Capable of printing automotive parts of practically any shape or length, the Stratasys Infinite Build system... Read more →