Edited by Haley Rischar

Friction stir extrusion processing technology could reduce the mass of automotive frames. Based on friction-stir-welding principles, in which the rotation of a tool generates heat and softens the workpiece to create a weld, friction-stir extrusion technology uses a rotating rod, which stirs the material in a container and forces it between the rod and hollow die, creating a tube.

Compared to the traditional extrusion press method in which a metal is forced through a die at a consistent speed and temperature, the new process allows the formation of enhanced tubular structure with higher strength and ductility, which enable mass reduction of hydroformed vehicle structures by eliminating weld flanges, reducing wall thickness, and forming tubes with more efficient profiles.

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), along with industry and research partners, is investigating the technology.

“The results of this project will have a major impact on the commercial and military transportation industry,” says LIFT CTO Alan Taub. “By reducing the weight and cost of materials used in auto frame production, land-based vehicles will be able to operate more efficiently.”

In two phases, the project aims to demonstrate friction stir extruded tubing has improved corrosion-resistant properties compared to conventionally extruded tubing, and that friction stir extruded tubing can be representative of a production part for a commercial vehicle.

The project is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2018.

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT)