In the past, owning a car used to be a luxurious investment for people. However, things aren’t the same way they used to be again. Today, owning and driving a car has become a necessity.
Automobiles are available everywhere across the world and people use them for several different reasons. But do you know how the machines were produced? In case you don’t know, one of the main factors that contribute to the successful production of a car is “raw materials.”
In the automobile industry, aluminum is the second most commonly used raw material for the production of cars. It’s more fuel-efficient and 50% lighter than steel – the most used material. However, aluminum is very expensive and this is why it’s mostly used on high-end cars.
What makes aluminum perfect for the production of cars? How are aluminum cars made? What are the top raw materials used in the automobile industry? You’ll find answers to these questions and more as you continue reading the rest of this article.
Why Are Cars Made of Aluminum?
Before going ahead to address the question of why some cars are made of aluminum, let me start by talking about what aluminum is all about. So, what are the mechanical properties of aluminum?
Aluminum is an element that has the properties of both metals and nonmetals. Furthermore, you need to understand that bauxite ore is the primary source of aluminum across the world. With that, it means that the element, which is one of Earth’s most abundant elements, needs to first be sourced from bauxite ore and then chemically processed before commercially pure aluminum can be achieved.
Commercially pure aluminum is usually soft. However, when alloyed and tempered, they tend to become strong. Also, pure aluminum is highly ductile, meaning that it can be beaten very thin. That’s not all; aluminum can easily be shaped or bent as it’s highly malleable. Furthermore, commercially pure aluminum has a self-protecting oxide layer – this makes it highly resistant to corrosion.
Here’s why aluminum is great for manufacturing cars
Now, let’s go back to the burning question of why cars are made from aluminum. It’s pretty simple; aluminum-made vehicles are usually more fuel-efficient than steel-made cars. Apart from that, the soft nature of commercially pure aluminum makes it possible for automobile makers to achieve lighter car models, which are capable of accelerating faster.
Furthermore, aluminum is 100% recyclable and apart from that, it’s capable of retaining its properties for a long period. That’s not all; the energy it takes to recycle aluminum is quite less than the one needed to produce a new one from bauxite ore.
How Are Aluminum Cars Made?
Here’s another burning question; how exactly are aluminum-made cars produced?
The production of aluminum-made cars starts with the shaping of the metal into sheets. This process is very much similar to the way sheets of steel are produced.
An aluminum sheet is produced when ingots or blocks of aluminum are heated to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees Celsius). After that, they are rolled between pins to form sheets, which are later turned into different shapes for the production of aluminum-made cars.
After shaping aluminum, the next step is the casting of aluminum into different car components, such as transmission enclosures and engine blocks. Up next is the fitting together of aluminum panels with the help of industrial-strength adhesives.
In case you don’t know, aluminum is a type of metal that doesn’t weld easily. Of course, that’s because its self-protecting oxide layer is capable of trapping gases and creating holes inside the welds. Since that’s the case, most automobile makers prefer to use expensive industrial-strength adhesives and rivets to fit the panels together.
Top Raw Materials Used in the Automobile Industry
As earlier mentioned, aluminum is the second most commonly used raw material in the automobile industry. If that’s the case, the question is what are the other top materials that automobile makers used for producing vehicles?
Earlier, in this post, I mentioned that steel is the most used material for the production of cars. That’s true; matter of fact, the metal makes up about 54 percent of the average vehicle cars out there, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
Most automobile makers choose steel for the construction of their cars because it’s quite inexpensive when you compare it to aluminum. Steel is used for the construction of car chassis and support beams. The metal is also effective in the manufacturing of door panels and exhaust pipes. Furthermore, steel has high strength, and this is why most automobile makers prefer to use them to produce their car frames.
Like steel and aluminum, rubber also plays an important role in the production of vehicles. The raw material is quite inexpensive and durable.
Apart from that, the material is also capable of withstanding heat. That’s why automobile makers use it to manufacture tires, belts, engine mounts, hoses, and seals.
Another raw material that’s usually used in the automobile industry is glass. It’s used in several areas during the production of cars. Automobile makers utilize glass for the construction of navigation screens of modern vehicles and camera lenses. Glass is also used in the production of windshields. This is achieved by placing a thin layer of vinyl in between two glasses.
Plastic, a by-product of petroleum, is another type of material used in the automobile industry. This raw material is highly malleable, meaning that it can easily be shaped or bent. Apart from that, the material is also durable and lightweight. Plastics are pretty much essential, as they are employed by automobile makers for manufacturing different components of the vehicle, such as dashboard, door handles, pipes, and air vents.