Starting with the Ford 2015 F-150, aluminum has recently become an increasingly popular material of choice for auto manufacturers in the US and abroad. Traditionally, most car bodies have been built from steel. Steel is goliath in strength, easy to handle, has a low overhead and is an accessible resource without an end in sight. So why now? Why the switch to aluminum?
Aluminum vs Steel for Automobiles
Aluminum has become a steel alternative for many reasons. Aluminum is lighter weight than its steel counterpart. Consider this: Ford shaved 700 pounds from its F-150 by switching to aluminum. Steel proponents at the Steel Market Development Institute argue however, that steel is cheaper to manufacture and less energy intensive to produce.
Aluminum is also less dense, more malleable and can be infinitely recycled. This could be great for manufacturers by allowing for versatility in the shape of a vehicle and making it easier to work with for repairs. On the other hand, aluminum is a supple material which may reflect dents and dings more apparently than steel over time.
Additionally, it is resistant to corrosion and rust whereas steel typically needs an additional treatment in order to protect it from the aging process.
Overall, the greatest benefit of using aluminum versus steel is the drive of increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles. The lighter a car is, the higher it’s gas mileage. Every ounce counts when the United States is working towards the common goal of reaching a 54.5 mpg fleet average by 2025.
As the automobile industry continues to experiment with using material other than steel,it could very well become the central-most resource in automotive design. Concurrently, aluminum recycling facilities will become increasingly critical and prevalent.
For such recycling sites, General Kinematics provides top-of-the-line sorting solutions for scrap recovery, which helps to increase sorting efficiency thus increasing overall output. For instance, GK drum magnet feeders heighten product recognition and increase sorting effectiveness. Likewise, the DE-STONER® Air Classifier concentrates recoverable material enabling a more streamlined material separation.
Source: General Kinematics