IndustryNet Blog

Ideal Materials for Lighter, Stronger and Safer Automotive Applications

Posted by IndustryNet on Tuesday, December 28, 2021


Parts manufactured by stampers and fabricators used to produce automotive engine components, airbag systems, and sensors are made from a variety of alloys that can withstand demanding conditions such as heat, stress and environmental factors. Applications like these are inheriting demands as a result of innovation. Auto engineers and designers are pushing the envelope for lighter weight, better performance, increasing electrical properties and greater durability. These demands put increasing pressure on the alloys selected and open the door to new alternatives being required to meet the needs of the end use.

Auto part manufacturers are also being charged with focusing on components that allow vehicles to use fuel more efficiently, improve safety, avoid noise and vibration, as well as comply to the letter with environmental regulations, which have become increasingly strict. In addition, as manufacturers are crafting and rolling out their electrification strategies, the need for lighter weight and higher strength materials are at the forefront.

With this trend of looking for lighter cars, it is necessary to use suitable materials, which benefit the cost and production time. For this reason, vehicle manufacturers are in constant search of new alloys which are of the utmost quality and precision for their models. Car lightening is the best way forward and the biggest manufacturing trend for years to come. Fortunately, there are several alloys in the commercial mainstream that have proven themselves in these critical applications. This article will specifically look at the two biggest alloys in the automotive industry: stainless steel and aluminum.

Stainless Steel Benefits

Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, which allows it to withstand extreme temperatures. This material provides security, can undergo extensive use for long periods of time, has an aesthetically pleasing finish, and does not require continuous maintenance. From its use in light vehicle accessories, to its use in the structure of heavy vehicles, these properties make stainless steel a fundamental material in the automotive industry. Common automotive applications of stainless steel include brackets, springs, exhaust systems, pipes, wheel rims, dash trim, catalytic converters, and much more.

Steel offers many characteristics that make it a predominant material in the automotive industry. Its mechanical properties offer great resistance to corrosion and ductility, in addition to its low cost in relation to other alloys or metals. Because of its benefits, steel is preferred by various manufacturers. Its advantages include excellent resistance to shocks, attractive design for users since its shape is easily modified, a long service life, minimal maintenance processes, the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, and much more.

The dynamic energy of the impact is absorbed during an accident. The better the mechanical properties of the material, the more energy it is able to absorb. With stainless steel, the quicker the load is applied, the harder it is for it to give in to deformation. A well-designed system that contains stainless steel in its structural parts has the ability to deform progressively, but in a controlled and predetermined way that offers better protection to users. It functions like a sponge, absorbing all possible damage in order to protect passengers. Stainless steel offers the highest energy absorption capacity in relation to the deformation rate.

Many applications require fasteners that can endure atmospheric or chemical corrosion, elevated temperatures, or both. Products like bolts, nuts, washers, and rivets are made of special metals that can tolerate intense heat, stress and corrosive environments. These applications are becoming more popular as designers push for improved performance and greater durability under challenging conditions. Most of today’s fastener alloys are considered precipitation hardening alloys. These PH alloys are different from other grades of stainless and nickel-based alloys due to small additions of copper, aluminum, phosphorous, or titanium in their matrix. Although they have more complex metallurgy, PH alloys are not necessarily more costly than many non-age-hardenable alloys. In fact, performance may be substantially higher in PH alloys without a cost penalty.

Advantages of Aluminum

Another dominant material in the auto industry is aluminum. Aluminum is regarded as a growing market today; however, it has been a key material for automakers for several decades. Aluminum is strong and light, combines with other materials easily, and is both heat and corrosion resistant. Every kilogram of aluminum used in a car reduces the total weight of the vehicle by one kilogram. This is especially important given the increasing relevance of fuel efficiency and achieving a reduction in CO2 emissions. This is one of the many reasons that aluminum is becoming increasingly pertinent as the ideal material in the manufacturing of vehicles and their components.

In the automotive industry, lightweight represents the requirement that all parts of a vehicle be optimized sufficiently to achieve the lowest possible weight. Lighter cars mean better fuel economy which is one of the most considered qualities when consumers are faced with choosing a new vehicle. There are strict regulations that have transformed the requirements of the auto industry. Across the globe, manufacturers must now work to reduce their CO2 emissions while also lowering production costs. Now more than ever, it’s necessary to look for more innovative processes that allow for increased production and reduced fuel use, all while meeting constantly growing demands. There are many benefits to lightweight vehicles. These including better milage, acceleration, breaking, and overall handling, the development of state-of-the-art biocomposites and biomaterials to seek a lighter alloy in bodies, and much more.

The easiest way to achieve a lightweight automobile, is with aluminum. It is a strong and light material, easy to combine with other materials, resistant to heat and corrosion. All these aforementioned characteristics make car manufacturers take them into account for the manufacture of different elements of the body such as: Body of bumpers, chests, doors, etc. Products made of this alloy, including sheets, coils, plates, bars, and tubes, are becoming increasingly popular in the industry. The most used of these alloys are 5000 series aluminum and 600 series aluminum. As the automotive industry moves forward, the trend towards a better environment and a constant quest to use less fossil fuels represents a technological breakthrough, and aluminum will be a key player in this.

Sourcing Your Material from a IATF 16949:2016 Compliant Manufacturer

Compliance can be a crucial factor for manufacturers supplying parts to the auto industry. Most companies need to ensure that the supplier or rolling mill partner they are buying material from has the necessary certifications to satisfy their compliance requirements. In the auto industry, there are a few major certifications that might be required; one in particular is IATF 16949:2016.

The International Automotive Task Force (IATF) is a group of automotive manufacturers whose goal is to provide improved quality products to automotive customers across the globe. Partnering with a supplier who has the IATF certification ensures overall quality from the products themselves to their customer service. In order to achieve this accreditation, all elements of quality in the business are closely assessed. This means that all products undergo rigorous testing to be free of deficiencies and flaws. Furthermore, there are specific processes in place to ensure that any product found to have a defect is corrected. This means that customers of a IATF compliant metal service center or precision reroll mill will receive extremely efficient and reliable service.

After two years of planning, implementing, and completing the final execution in order to achieve this goal, Ulbrinox is proud to announce that it was accredited with the IATF 16949:2016 certification! This is a huge milestone for the company, as being IATF certified recognizes the credibility that Ulbrinox has within the automotive manufacturing industry.


About Ulbrinox

In the Mexican automotive industry, Ulbrinox is a Tier 1 and Tier 2 sheet and strip supplier of stainless steel and aluminum, which have high resistance to corrosion and high malleability, as well as being ideal for the formability of various applications such as Thermal protectors (heat shields), Moldings and emblems, Flexible metal hoses, Automotive Bellows, Exhaust systems, Clamps, among many others.

Aside from upholding to excellent quality standards, another benefit to partnering with Ulbrinox is having access to their reliable supply chain network. Its location in the state of Querétaro allows them to satisfy the needs of the market in Mexico, as well as North, Central and South America. With large automotive manufacturers moving to and operating in Mexico, Ulbrinox will be a local IATF option, and one of the few available in North America.

Ulbrinox’s 25 years of experience, strategic location, certifications to back their quality policy, and inventory of optimal materials for your processes allows for endless possibilities within the automotive market. Their expansive variety, along with rapid technological development in the industry, is a standout feature of the company. Request a quote today to get started on your next automotive market application!

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