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
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
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.
information on Laser Welding