Aluminium usage in automotive vehicle bodies within Europe is increasing as well as the use of high strength steels. This increase is predominantly due to demands placed on manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption, reduce exhaust emissions and meet recyclability targets. It is expected that the use of aluminium in cars and light vehicles will increase by 7% per year up to 50% by 2010 and that production volumes of high aluminium content vehicles is expected to reach around 30% of the total production volume in the EU in 2010. Common methods for joining aluminium panels in production include; resistance spot welding, fusion welding and the use of rivets, clinching, adhesives etc. There is a problem however that exists in the vehicle body repair sector, which is dominated by SMEs.
This is associated with the repair of aluminium- bodied vehicles and also the repair of high strength steel body panels. Current joining methods can be very expensive, for example the Audi A8 is quoted as being 40% more expensive to insure than its steel bodied equivalents, for this reason. There is an opportunity for the SME partners to develop technology in the areas of aluminium vehicle body and high strength steel vehicle body repair that will be used in SME vehicle repair body shops.
Friction stir spot welding is emerging as a very attractive joining method for aluminium vehicle bodies, with potential also for high strength steel. It is a variant of the friction stir welding process and involves plunging a rotating tool into a lap joint, forging a spot weld and then retracting the tool. There are significant advantages of FSSW over more established joining methods - less power consumption, produces an excellent joint, is extremely fast when compared with mechanical methods and produces a homogenous joint suitable for recycling.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeCooperative - SMEs-Co-operative research contracts
Praha 9 Letnany