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'Explosive Welding' Being Studied for Mixed Material Repairs

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Sept. 11, 2017—As automakers have reduced the weight of their vehicles, they’ve introduced new materials, stepping up the use of high-strength steels, aluminum and magnesium. They’ve found new ways to join parts made with different materials together.

Now comes the hard part, says a new report from Advanced Manufacturing—continuing the momentum, going deeper into vehicles and components to find weight savings. The industry, while doing all that, has to balance safety and customer demand for more vehicle features.

And when it comes to collision repair, that involves finding safer ways to join mixed materials. There are several academic studies related to the lightweighting issue, including one from Ohio State University, which is studying “civilized explosive welding” as a way to join dissimilar materials and avoid corrosion.

With the process, a thunderbolt rams one material into another to create a welded joint.

“It’s an early stage technology we’re committed to,” Glenn Daehn, professor of metallurgical engineering for the university, said in February at the Lightweight Vehicle Manufacturing Summit in Detroit.

“We think this is the best way to join advanced or dissimilar materials,” Daehn said at the conference.

Also involved are two institutes that are part of Manufacturing USA, a program set up under the Obama administration for academic institutions, non-profits and companies to collaborate on manufacturing technology.

The two working on lightweighting are Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT; Detroit) and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI; Knoxville, TN). IACMI has a satellite office at LIFT’s headquarters.

 

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