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Company to Investigate Technology Aimed at Automotive Frame Mass and Weight Reduction

Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT), along with industry and research partners, has announced a new project to investigate the use of new friction stir extrusion processing technology to manufacture automotive frames.

Compared to the traditional extrusion press method in which a metal is forced through a die at a consistent speed and temperature, the new process is expected to reduce the mass and weight of automotive frames.

Based on friction stir welding principles, in which the rotation of a tool generates heat and softens the workpiece to create a weld, friction stir extrusion technology includes a rotating rod, which stirs the material in a container and forces it between the rod and hollow die creating a tube.

Friction stir welding technology allows the formation of enhanced tubular structure with higher strength and ductility, which enable mass reduction of hydroformed vehicle structures by eliminating weld flanges, reducing wall thickness and forming tubes with more efficient profiles.

Industry members working on the project include project lead Lockheed Martin, as well as Comau and MTI. Research partners include: the University of Notre Dame; University of Michigan; University of Tennessee-Knoxville; the Ohio State University; Southwest Research Institute; and Oakridge National Laboratory.

"The results of this project will have a major impact on the commercial and military transportation industry," said Alan Taub, Chief Technology Officer, LIFT. "By reducing the weight and cost of materials used in auto frame production, land-based vehicles will be able to operate more efficiently."

In two phases, the project aims to demonstrate friction stir extruded tubing has improved corrosion-resistant properties over conventionally extruded tubing, and that friction stir extruded tubing can be representative of a production part for a commercial vehicle.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018.

For more information contact:


1400 Rosa Parks Boulevard

Detroit, MI 48216


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