Novelis is introducing the Advanz 7000-series of high-strength aluminum alloys designed for safety-critical components of vehicle structures. Two to three times stronger than any automotive aluminum used in high volumes today, Novelis Advanz 7000-series products can be used to manufacture components such as bumper systems, crash ring components and door intrusion beams.
Very high strength 7000-series aluminum alloys have been in development for and in use in aerospace applications for decades, said Duane Bendzinski, Novelis Global Director of Technology, Automotive. Novelis has been looking at ways to make the alloys more useful and specific for automotive applications, he said.
In aerospace applications, the majority of the aluminum parts are made through machining, Bendzinski explained. Manufacturers take a large chunk of aluminum and machine out up to 90% to achieve their desired result.
That’s great for airplanes, which are produced in low volume. However the automotive world is looking at material that is not inches thick, it is looking at tenths of an inch or less. The qualities and the characteristics that are really important for a big chunk of aluminum for machining versus a thin sheet that is stamped or formed can be very different. That’s what we’re doing—taking the basic chemistry in metallurgy, and adapting it for the needs of the auto industry.
Some of the metallurgy and the technical challenges for a thick piece of aluminum—such as rapid quenching—are different than for a thin piece. We can concentrate on other qualities in the thin piece.—Duane Bendzinski
The new alloy series will offer a significant weight reduction when compared to current high strength steels in the marketplace, enabling automakers to further reduce the weight of vehicles while ensuring high levels of passenger safety, the Novelis said.
|Novelis B-pillar in Advanz 7000. Click to enlarge.|
According to the Aluminum Association, 7xxx Series alloys feature zinc as the primary alloying agent. When magnesium is added in a smaller amount, the result is a heat-treatable, very high strength alloy. Other elements such as copper and chromium may also be added in small quantities. The most commonly known alloys are 7050 and 7075, which are widely used in the aircraft industry. The military Bradley Fighting Vehicle is made from two different aluminum alloys: a 7xxx series and 5xxx series.
|Novelis high-strength aluminum alloy roadmap. Source: Novelis. Click to enlarge.|
The big thing about the 7000 series is it uses a set of alloying elements that under the right conditions allow the material to achieve very high levels of strength. It is a characteristic that allows for the minimal amount of material to be used in an application where strength is very very important.—Duane Bendzinski
Customer testing of the first Novelis Advanz 7000-series alloys is currently underway with a number of global automakers.
As the world’s leading supplier of aluminum sheet, Novelis is a partner to many of the world’s leading automakers and their most structurally innovative vehicles, such as the new Ford F-150, the Range Rover and the Jaguar XE. Novelis pioneered the aluminum alloys—including 6111, 6016 and 5754—that shaped the high volume adoption of aluminum in the auto industry.