Mazda Develops World's First Aluminum Joining Technology
Mazda Motor Corporation has developed the world's first aluminum joining technology using friction heat to be applied in the aluminum body assembly process for automobiles. The new technology drastically reduces energy consumption and requires little equipment investment. Mazda will introduce this technology for the rear doors and bonnet of the Mazda RX-8, an all-new four-door, four-seater sports car '' scheduled for launch this April.
Up until now 'resistance welding' has been the most feasible joining technology available for assembling aluminum body parts of commercially produced vehicles. However, resistance welding requires that a large current be instantaneously passed through the aluminum. This approach not only uses a large amount of electricity, but also requires large, specialized equipment. Through the new spot joining method developed by Mazda, a welding gun holds the parts from both sides with a welding tool. The welding tool is then made to spin while force is applied, which in turn generates frictional heat. This heat is utilized to soften the aluminum and generate plastic flow to join the parts.
Features and Advantages of the New Aluminum Joining Technology:
Use of aluminum for automobiles is one important approach to make vehicles lighter, which leads to enhanced fuel efficiency and improvements in safety and dynamic performance. In the future, it is expected that aluminum will be widely introduced in many areas. Previously, it was difficult to join parts with welding methods such as 'resistance,' 'arc' and 'laser,' due to the fact that aluminum is a much better conductor of electricity and heat than steel. In addition, other methods presented cost issues. For example, 'riveted joints' use expensive rivets, resulting in higher joining costs, while 'mechanical clinching' requires large equipment.
This energy- and cost-saving aluminum welding technology through the utilization of friction heat, developed ahead of other global makers, has widened the future possibilities for the application of aluminum in automobiles. At the same time, it is also beneficial for all manufacturers that use aluminum in their work, and is expected to significantly contribute to environmental conservation in a wide range of fields.
Mazda Executive Vice President Hisakazu Imaki said, "We are making continuous efforts towards achieving plant production that conserves energy and reduces environmental impact. To date Mazda has developed many original technologies, including the 'Three Layer Wet Paint System' and 'Semi-dry Machining Process'. I am extremely proud that we can clearly demonstrate our determination to the world with the development of this latest technology."