In collaboration with Metalsa, a global supplier of light and commercial vehicle and chassis structures, Alcoa Aerospace Transportation & Industrial Products unveiled a development-phase, all-aluminum commercial truck frame at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show. The aluminum alternative will reduce heavy-duty truck weight by over 40 percent compared to steel frames, saving nearly 900 lb. per vehicle. In addition to increasing fuel efficiency and payload, company engineers note, the aluminum frame’s increased stiffness will double rigidity, enabling a smoother ride. Higher corrosion resistance, compared to a steel frame, can extend a vehicle’s service life.
“The lightweight truck frame will allow fleets to reduce fuel consumption, increase payload without compromising durability,” says, Alcoa Aerospace Transportation & Industrial Products President Mark Vrablec.
“Our customers wanted an aluminum frame that would provide 40 percent weight savings with equivalent performance to steel, and we knew the pathway to that was combining our knowledge of commercial vehicle design with Alcoa’s expertise in lightweight metals,” adds Metalsa Commercial Vehicles Vice President of Technology Sean Fleming.
Experts at the Alcoa Technical Center worked with Metalsa to develop the new frame over the past two years. Demonstration projects are underway to qualify the product with customers. Existing equipment and tooling is being used to allow manufacturers to seamlessly transition to the aluminum frame, with little or no additional capital expense. The frame is expected to be available in 2018, produced using metal from Alcoa’s Global Rolled Products business.