The growing demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles to reduce energy consumption and air pollution is a challenge for the automotive industry. The characteristic properties of aluminium, high strength stiffness to weight ratio, good formability, good corrosion resistance, and recycling potential make it the ideal candidate to replace heavier materials (steel or copper) in the automotive to respond to the weight reduction demand within the automotive industry. Currently, the highly formable 5000 alloys are used mostly for inner panel applications, whilst the heat-treatable 6000 alloys are preferred for outer panel applications. This presentation reviews recent developments in aluminium alloys to improve formability, surface quality in both 5000 and 6000 alloys, and the bake hardening response of 6000 alloys. It also indicates the trend to develop a unialloy system to improve the aluminium scrap recycling. Particular emphasis has been placed on the development of long life alloys with superior corrosion performance over the more conventional materials. Using these two examples the technical and commercial aspects of the manufacturing processes of aluminium automotive components and engineering design support of materials producers are illustrated.
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