GM announced it might introduce a new lightweight magnesium sheet metal to its vehicles if the thermal-forming process goes well.
If the technology is a success, this means GM will be able to create high-strength components that are lighter than aluminum. If the die-cast magnesium has been used until now mostly for the production of wheels, the new method cam make the material to be molded into precise shapes, by heating it up to 450 degrees Celsius (842 degrees Fahrenheit) and then molded to take the shape of the desired part.
GM has already manufactured a magnesium rear deck lid inner panel which underwent 250 kg (551 lb) impacts and 77,000 robotic slams without any issues. It weighs with 1 kg (2.2 lb) less than a normal steel panel, but using more magnesium components to build a vehicle would mean significant weight savings.
“Every gram of weight reduction matters when it comes to improving fuel economy. Being able to replace heavier metals with one of the lightest will help us deliver better fuel economy to customers around the world while also still providing the safety and durability they expect,” said Greg Warden, GM’s executive director for global vehicle body engineering.