Audi’s new Lamborghini Gallardo with the world’s first production ready aluminium tailor welded blank

Corus, the international metals group  Corus, the international metals group, has announced that it is supplying Audi’s new Lamborghini Gallardo with the world’s first production ready aluminium tailor welded blank designed to help the car maker further reduce vehicle body weight and assembly costs.

The tailor welded blank was introduced in this car in spring 2003 and Corus has now successfully supplied more than 1200 pieces.

Corus Aluminium Rolled Products (CARP) based at the Duffel plant in Belgium, is supplying Audi with the unique aluminium blank for use in the Lamborghini Gallardo’s front wheel arches. It follows years of research and development between the plant, the Corus Research and Development centre at IJmuiden in the Netherlands and Audi to bring to the automotive market a product that combines the weight advantages of aluminium with the recognised benefits of using tailor welded blank technology.

Steel tailor welded blanks are now an established automotive manufacturing technology already accounting, on a rising trend, for more than 15 per cent of the average vehicle body structure on high volume models. The new Corus aluminium tailor welded blank similarly joins by laser welding two or more sheets of different grades and thicknesses, which have been strategically selected to provide the optimum strength using the least amount of material possible for specific points on a vehicle.

Vehicle manufacturers are today increasingly turning to tailor welded blanks to help increase structural integrity while reducing vehicle component weight for lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Corus anticipates that within the next decade 25 to 30 per cent of all steel body-in-white car production will include tailor welded blank technology.

However unlike steel, aluminium is a more difficult material to weld, which historically has restricted the development of aluminium tailor welded blanks.

In 2001 Corus invested in a laser welding centre in IJmuiden which has since helped it to study and optimise the aluminium laser welding techniques needed to develop a robust process with the consistently high quality weld seam required to move from prototypes for test and development into series production.

Commenting on developing the world’s first production ready aluminium tailor welded blank, Johan Ameel, director of Corus Aluminium Rolled Products said: "We have been co-operating with Audi for years in the development of improved aluminium qualities for vehicle bodies. Developing this further into offering tailor welded blanks in aluminium was a challenging but logical step."

Mr Ameel continued: "We are confident that Audi and other vehicle manufacturers will now maximise the full weight advantages of combining aluminium with tailor welded blank technology to help further reduce vehicle body and chassis component weight on future aluminium models or with specific automotive applications."

Corus aluminium tailor welded blank products will be made both from 5000 and 6000 series alloys, which offer strong forming capabilities making it suitable for vehicle body and chassis applications. Using a mono beam laser system allows perfect weld quality in both alloy groups.

More information on Laser Welding

 

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