Aluminum in the Future of Cars and the Automotive Industry: Part II
Aluminum Alloys and Aluminum Solution Treating
The aluminum metals in cars are usually alloys, which means the aluminum contains another substance. Aluminum alloys typically contain copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon, tin or zinc. The addition of these other materials causes specific effects in aluminum’s strength, flexibility, or other properties to make them strong enough for low-stress areas such as the cab’s floor, cowl, and inner door panels.
Treatment of the aluminum alloys also influences the physical properties of the sample. Heat-treating aluminum after the forming process helps increase the strength of the aluminum.
Aluminum solution treating and aging is therefore an important part in the manufacturing process of aluminum automotive products. Heat treatments improve the strength of aluminum and enhance its mechanical properties to make it strong enough for high stress areas, such as the cab, the body section beneath the door known as the sill or rocker panel, and the vertical pillar supports by a vehicle’s windshield.
Heat treatments harden aluminum alloys by distributing the alloys evenly throughout the metal. Aluminum solution treatment minimizes segregation of the alloys to create a solid material.
Solution heat treating raises the alloy temperature to about 980 degrees Fahrenheit and holds it there for about an hour, which dissolves the alloying elements into a solid solution in the aluminum. Next, the material is quenched in water to prevent the alloying elements from moving around once they are cool. Quenching aluminum makes it more durable and sturdy.
Solution heat treating is helping aluminum become the “everywhere metal” in cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Choosing the right equipment can optimize the aluminum solution treating process to produce high-quality aluminum alloy materials for use in the automotive industry. So, the next time you drive home from work, you can think about the aluminum in your vehicle being treated in a Wisconsin Oven.