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Lightweighting is one of the biggest challenges facing automotive manufacturers today. Demand for new lightweight materials continues to challenge engineers to discover cost-effective alternatives and develop new assembly processes.

Advanced Lightweight Materials & Manufacturing Innovation Congress 2021 gives new perspective on how engineers can find new and improved technologies for adopting lightweight materials for body, chassis, interior, power train and under-the-hood applications.

OEMs and suppliers are rushing to develop multi-material vehicles that incorporate aluminium, carbon-fiber composites, high-strength steel, magnesium, titanium, various types of foam, plastic, and rubber. They are also exploring bio-based materials. This rush is also enabling them to rethink traditional assembly processes and develop new joining techniques.

The long-term goal is to reduce overall vehicle weight to improve fuel economy and meet the evolving demands of increasingly electrified vehicle platforms. Typically, a 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight can lead to an 8 percent improvement in fuel economy. However, the big challenge is to cost-effectively join dissimilar materials while meeting increasingly stringent safety and performance standards. The baseline materials for vehicle construction, low-carbon steel and cast iron, are being replaced by materials with higher specific strength and stiffness: advanced high-strength steels, aluminium, magnesium, and polymer composites. The key challenge is to reduce the cost of manufacturing structures with these new materials. Maximizing the weight reduction requires optimized designs utilizing multi-materials in various forms. This use of mixed materials presents additional challenges in joining and preventing galvanic corrosion.